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When the Other Man Is Your Brother

broken heartHi Chump Lady.

My wife cheated on me five years ago with my older brother.

We had been married for less than a year. I had no idea it was going on. I only found out because my brother’s wife found out and confronted my wife. I was the last person to learn about the affair.

My brother and I have been best friends since childhood, so when he told me about it in my living room I was devastated. A few months after learning of the affair I continued to feel deep in my gut that there was more I didn’t know. After all, my wife wasn’t even the person who confessed. She eventually fessed up to another affair with a random person while on a college convention — this affair happened less than 6 months after we were married.

Five years and several counseling sessions later, I still feel there is more she hasn’t confessed to and building trust seems so impossible. I’ve realized recently that my wife has cheated on every single boyfriend she had even prior to us being married. We don’t have kids. I think I might be codependent. I think I have to leave, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do it.

What should I do?

Josh

Dear Josh,

Leave. You know what you need to do, and you’re absolutely strong enough to do it. I have every faith in you. That’s why this community exists, to help escort you to the other side of this pain. It’s okay to need some hand-holding. It’s a kind of deprogramming, to switch your allegiance from someone who never had allegiance to you, to protecting yourself. But you absolutely can do it.

I get a lot of letters, and as we say, it’s not the Pain Olympics, but to be betrayed by both your wife and your brother is a fucking slag heap of grief. I imagine the weight of that suffering must feel impossible to lift (which is why CN’s all going to take a corner and HEAVE HO!)

The two people who should’ve been the safest people in your world conspired against you. Fuck them.

Let’s start with your brother. The casual contempt he must have for you to screw your wife when you’re both newlyweds? In a giant world of people, he cheats with his sister-in-law? This guy must get off on cruelty. Sure, we could argue he’s a lazy cheater and your wife is nearby kibbles in his social orbit. But both you and his chump wife went about your lives unknowingly, so he could enjoy a contact high off your humiliation. Savoring the power of this secret.

He might say it DIdn’t Mean Anything To Him — and how is that better? That he would destroy your world, just because he could? Because you are of so little consequence? Fuck him and his “intentions.” He is not your best friend. He’s not a real man. He’s a loser who can’t see past the end of his dribbling dick.

No contact. I know this will make family occasions awkward, so feel free to explain to your parents and every fourth cousin why Dick Dribble isn’t welcome. Don’t let anyone question your boundaries, including his wife, if she’s reconciling with him (please tell me she isn’t — this advice goes to her too). There is no spackle like family spackle, but Josh, you deserve a LOT of space from your brother. For a long, long time.

I know that’s a loss and you’re going to grieve it, but sometimes shared DNA is overrated. There are other brothers. You might not share a mother, but there are guys capable of deep friendship who would never, ever do anything so transgressive and hurtful.

Now to your wife…

my wife wasn’t even the person who confessed. She eventually fessed up to another affair with a random person while on a college convention — this affair happened less than 6 months after we were married.

Okay, she cheated with two different men (that you know of) the first year you were married?

Is this relationship acceptable to you? Is this the marriage you signed up for? You’re not required to try and make it work with someone so abusive and remorseless. And WHY WOULD YOU?

I’ve realized recently that my wife has cheated on every single boyfriend she had even prior to us being married.

So, she’s a serial cheater. Nothing here to work with, Josh. NOTHING. Unless you want a steady abuse cycle of pain and devastation.

Five years and several counseling sessions later, I still feel there is more she hasn’t confessed to and building trust seems so impossible.

I’m unclear from your letter if you found out recently or 5 years ago? I’m thinking the affairs happened year one in your five-year marriage and you’ve recently learned of it. In either case, BAIL. If your wife never confessed to all the extramarital fucking around she was doing — WITH YOUR BROTHER — and let you invest YEARS OF YOUR LIFE in her? She’s a monster. Please don’t breed with a monster. Ask a few gazillion of us chumps how we know.

Look, I know you’re thinking “Who are you, Mean Internet Lady, to tell me my wife is a monster?” And then you’re going to have misty watercolor memories of winsome things she does, or how the sunlight bounces off her hair, or some lame-ass sorry she gave you.

Josh, I’m reaching across the interwebs to bitchslap you. MONSTER!

People who love you do not fuck your brother. Sick narcissistic cyclops do that.

Do not invest your precious life with someone who does not love you.

I think I might be codependent.

You bonded. It’s hard to un-bond. You’re human. You got chumped. It is an entirely curable condition.

I think I have to leave, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do it.

You absolutely have to leave. If Josh values Josh, Josh will leave. No one feels strong enough to do it. You just do it anyway. Absolutely no one goes through this meat grinder of betrayal and thinks, “Oh, today is the day I have my shit together.” No, the whole thing is as graceful as jumping off a burning ship and clinging to wreckage.

JUMP.

Escape starts with jumping. Because the alternative is go down in a fiery wreck. So call that lawyer. Separate the things. Get the full-panel STD tests. Come here for support. You. Can. Do. It.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • Kill your soul! Exactly!
      I must have died a thousand deaths when I realized he cheated with his best friends wife after 30 years being married. He considered that friend a brother. So did I. We went everywhere together even on vacation. It really is gut wrenching. Josh do not live with it. That pain is unbearable. It will destroy you. Trust me, I know. He would come home with massive hickey. Those two cruel creatures!
      I have now learnt the meaning of “drop dead” because that was what happened. Heart attack after we split! The pain does not end.
      You need to take care of you!

      • Lioness…so you were doubly betrayed? If you can, share more of your story? Me too. We were friends with the other couple. Kids were friends (still are). Attended church together. I know many who’ve experienced being betrayed, but few who’ve been doubly so. So hard to convey the depth of the pain…

        • Juniper, thanks for asking. Our friendship broke up because I kept away. However I know that if I were to ever contact the “brother” he would be there for me. They have one son and I have a daughter. They were great friends as well. We were a tight knit bunch. My daughter chose to keep away as well. My Ex turned into an abuser and I stayed long enough to end up in a wheelchair, due to financial circumstances. We were forced into hiding for a while so most relationships broke up. I’ve been on here for many many years and chumps have truly supported me along the way. I’m doing a whole lot better today. Thanks CL and CN

  • Oh Josh, please listen to CL. Run. Run like there are monsters behind you, because your brother and your STBX are monsters. Once you take off those rose colored glasses you will see them clearly as abusers. Those two are abusing you. I don’t believe for a hot second that that sordid affair is over. You got nothing to work with here.

    Buy the book. It comes on audiobook too for when you are too hurt to read. Get you a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse. Start today by contacting the Super Lawyers in your area. Most importantly don’t tell them what you are doing. Be stealthy and get out.

    You are going to do so much better cheater free. There is a better life waiting for you. You can do this. I am deeply sorry for the betrayal from the very people who should love you. I know it hurts but you can end this pain. Get a good lawyer and end this pain. Divorce is a gift you give yourself.

  • Hi Josh:

    I am assuming you live fairly close to your brother. If yes, could you get a job elsewhere and leave the city or state you are in? There are going to be so many triggers for you: your ex-wife, her friends and family, your brother, his friends, your mutual friends and people who know you, your family, all the places you went together and activities you used to do with either of them…

    Sometimes a fresh start, in a new place not littered with betrayal reminders, is called for. You’ve been doubly betrayed, and none of this is fair and not one damn part of this easy. Good luck to you on this painful journey.

    • Moving sounds like a great idea to me – if you can, Josh. I’d have moved too after separating, if it weren’t for shared custody of kids. Better to do it now, before you settle down in the area with someone else!

      • Josh, I support the MOVING idea if it’s possible.

        I was married to the DOCTOR for 35 years and leaving meant a brutal amount of upheaval. It was a gut punching level of rejection and humiliation I’d never felt before and never will again (because I’m healthier now). At some point I finally realized I could not “un-know” what I’d learned about him and whether he was always a dick or became one later, no longer mattered. It was not fixable and I could not be the marriage police again, nor could I ever feel the trust I once had in him. Having the one who is supposed to protect you turn out to be the family assassin, just smashes your world view and self confidence.

        After a year of bewilderment and then a year of horrible pain as everything sank in, – I changed careers and moved to Europe with a new job – living in a country where I didn’t know a word of the language or a single person there.

        Stayed 2 years and would have stayed longer but for the pandemic.

        OMG – YES it was the bravest, craziest thing I ever did and I’m so very grateful I did it.

        A thousand small and large victories (just navigating the grocery stores and washing machine, along with all the new job requirements) did wonders for my self esteem.

        Turns out I’m fucking awesome and YOU will learn the same thing.

        Newsflash #1 – You are stronger and braver and better than you feel right now.

        I now KNOW in my head AND in my heart that my EX is a fool who discarded a great loving family.

        And it’s HIS LOSS, and OUR GAIN – b/c that soul sucking pain would have killed me slowly but surely. I mean that, literally.

        NEWSFLASH #2

        Your wife will NOT change. It’s not in her. Waiting for her to “achieve her POTENTIAL” as a spouse is a waste of your precious time on earth. It’s like waiting for your goldfish to learn to knit.

        Your wife will cheat again and in all likelihood will eventually leave you anyhow. She’s always going to be shopping for something shiny and new – as she has revealed by her repeated behavior.

        So there’s no “staying married to her” ANYHOW…

        You can invest more years in a lost cause, or you can cut your losses now and gain a life. Those really are your only options.

        Please learn from our learned lessons b/c we learned them the hard way…

        • Hi Doctors1stwife-
          I am
          New here and it has only been 4 months since D-Day. My situation sounds similar to yours. I am a doctors 1st wife as well, 3 young adult children and married 30 years. Very cliche situation. Long term affair (double life) with a subordinate in his office.
          I have been on the emotional roller coaster. Trying to have no contact but he seems to contact me on “my days”. Valentine’s Day sends Gifts and flowers to me and our children. Definitely wants me to play the pick me dance.
          I think he is a narcissist but comes across as the NICEST a person ever!!
          How long did it take you to move forward and get rid of your wasband? Right now I am still trying to stabilize myself. Also, I have heard that I should keep the status quo for the short term….don’t move or make any big changes. Appreciate your thoughts and advice!!

          • Hi Mrs. Nice wife. I am not an ex-doctor’s wife, but I will give you my 2 cents anyway. Whether he’s a narcissist or not, there’s no fixing him. He’s playing mind games with you (it’s called mind fuck) when he sends you a Valentine’s day card and flowers. Throw those things in the trash. In fact, go give the flowers to a nursing home, or a neighbor, or the next door neighbor, and burn the card. It will help push you forward. If he notices no flowers or card, out right tell him, “I don’t want anything that speaks of falsehood.” Do not answer your phone when he calls. Let it go to voice mail. I know that this is hard. Your heart just really, really wants to believe he’s sorry. He is not. He feels entitled to do what he wants. Does that make him a narcissist? Who knows? But I do know that it makes him a dick! And you want that dick out of your life. I give you permission to call him a dick for several years. (I finally had to stop calling my ex a dick after 5 years when my son said, “Okay mom. You need to stop calling dad a dick now.” So now I call him ‘Richard’.) ‘Richard’ is still the nicest man in the world. And we on Chump Nation, who were previously married to the nicest spouses, all know exactly what you are talking about. But ‘nice behavior’ to everybody else does not mean he’s nice. He’s an abuser and the sooner you start seeing him as abusive to you is your first start to recognize you’re being abused. He’s a dick. Emotional abuse is so much worse as it makes you doubt yourself. There aren’t any bruises, just nice cars, nice clothes, nice dinners, etc. Nobody sees the problem but you. It took me at least 2 years post divorce to stop doubting myself. If you can’t move in the short term, at least do what is advised here. Start getting all of your ducks in order. Get copies of everything. Open several bank accounts in your own name with your own credit cards. If you have to, get a PO box. Tell your sibling/best friend so you have an outlet (as long as you can trust that person.) Go for counseling.

            • Amazon Chump,
              Can’t help but smile at your calling your ex a dick, it was kind of you to stop when your son asked you to, obviously it upset him. But no matter our story I think each female chump will always think of our cheater as a “ dick,” that shoe seems to fit them, so they have to wear it, even if it is just in our mind.
              “ that dick!”

              Big hugs to you & all chumps! ( at least we are NOT dicks) 🤣

              • I and my now wonderful husband call my ex “numb nuts” if we need to mention him at all. It makes us both laugh but we don’t say that except in front of my family who totally agree with our naming rights!!

            • You are absolutely correct that this is abuse and emotional abuse can be worse than physical abuse! You don’t see emotional abuse coming. Ironically, he told me his wp (whore partner) was physically abused. However, he never saw a bruise, her ex husband got the house and custody of the kids. Hmmmmm, my genius husband has completely became the dumbest person I know.
              Thank you for all you advice.

          • The main big change to make right now is LEAVE THE CHEATER.

            The rest of it I needed to pause on as I was out of my mind with shock and pain. I don’t think it’s possible to completely avoid missteps. Just make sure to be careful when making decisions that have permanence involved (like tattoos, getting rid of stuff…I did keep a 5K Hawaiian bracelet that I was tempted to ditch. It took me two years to realize I was the one who really bought it and had it engraved. He just handed me our debit card when I picked it out. It represents a place on earth that I love, that I found, and has happy memories attached of my and my daughter).

            Stay here for great suggestions and tools and first aid.

            YOU were the Secret Sauce that made that affair taste so good. Now it’s gone and their buzz has totally been harshed.

            • Thank you for the advice. Love your comment…, “You were the secret sauce that made that affair taste so good”

          • There is no “try” about no contact. If your kids are grown, you have no need for contact with him. Let the lawyer communicate your messages.

            Block him on your phone. No calls, no text. Block him on any social media. If he sends stuff, throw it away or give it away. Remind yourself that he doesn’t want to lose 1/2 his assets in divorce so he will make “nice” to you in order to manipulate you.

            Make sure the most supportive people in your life know what you are going through. Find a good therapist who can help you make decisions that are in YOUR best interest.

            The person who can best decide about what to do in the short run (keep the house, move, etc.) is your LAWYER. Your job is to figure out what you want the next stage of your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Do you want to go back to school? Start a new career? Move to another part of the country? This is a time to get to know WHO YOU ARE apart from Dr. Cheater and WHAT YOU WANT THE NEXT STAGE OF YOUR LIFE TO LOOK LIKE. I actually used Pinterest to redesign my life (not using recipes, though, LOL) but trying to capture what interested me as I rethought myself and my life.

            The one big change you need is a divorce. There is no guarantee that he isn’t already hiding money and that HE won’t decide divorce is what he wants. Take control of your own life. There’s no fixing things with someone who has lived a double life for years. I think you know that, but he’s been lying to you and gaslighting you for years. It will take a while to clear your mind and be able to see him without making him central to your thoughts.

            I always think a good therapist who understands Cluster B personalities and the trauma they inflict on others can help people navigating a divorce with someone like your husband. Please stick around here. Read and respond. You’ll get so much help from others who have been through similar experiences.

          • MRS NICE WIFE

            The split happened in late 2016 (when I was hospitalized- nice) and the divorce was final in 2018. He immediately remarried and a month later I moved to Europe. But I had some good times in those first 2 years before heading to Europe, (so it wasn’t all a hellish nightmare), but I would say I felt more at peace after nearly 3 years. I met the DOCTOR when I was 19, and loved him all of my adult life. So it was very painful to face my new reality, (but denial would only prolong the pain). And it usually takes those of us in longer marriages, longer to heal.

            It takes work, just like recovering after a physical injury takes physical therapy and effort. But the alternative is feeling like shit forever. Do the work. It’s worth it.

            The DOCTOR has only seen ONE of our 3 grown children in the 4+ years we’ve been apart. And He saw her just once.
            The kids have never met or spoken with his new wife. He told them they are not to bring up the past when they meet her and I guess that turned them off…(image management was not something they signed up for). He lives thousands of miles away, thank God.

            I suspect that once he realized the gig was up, that far too much effort would be required of him to reconcile, so there was no going back to our family.

            And in truth I knew at some level he had used up my emotional reserves…I was drained but it still hurt like hell. You can be very sad but resolute.

            ** Grieving a choice isn’t the same as doubting that choice. **

            I don’t know why the DOCTOR never pondered what his relationships with our kids would be like after we split, since they were always much closer to me. In fact, he was the common denominator in 90% of family conflict.

            But he seemed shocked and is bitterly furious that the kids have not met or spoken to HIS “new family” and our son has disowned him. I had nothing to do with that & only learned of it several months later.

            I know cheaters – when caught & facing consequences, believe it is easier to start fresh with a new fan base, but there’s no way the schmoopie is my equal (for so many reasons). Nor did my ex count on losing most of our friends & my huge fun family. Their choices cost them more than they’ll ever admit.

            He & I have NO contact (he ignored my ONE text about our youngest child being in the hospital 2 years ago- so he makes NC easy ) I will say that no contact is MUCH easier for me than continued communication. In fact even indirect contact via the lawyers triggered me hugely. Still does to be honest. Ugh.

            I can’t say for sure how happy my ex is. But his misery or joy is not an index for mine. He has attained a position of little relevance, and that is a position he earned.

            He’s bitter and angry at ME (irony, much??) and for the life of me, his extensive marital revisions have distorted our history so much I cannot recognize it as ours. He lies. A lot.

            Be ready to see a very UN NICE side to your husband…

            Mine veers from raging at ME for “fucking him over & pushing the kids away” to self pity. He STILL denies the affair even though I have gut wrenching proof…that’s entitlement in the 1st degree

            -even in the face of proof, it enrages him not to be believed.

            It’s crazy and no, I never ever expected this level of darkness or cray cray from him, so be prepared for your NICE guy to show another side to him when he faces FOR THE FIRST TIME – consequences !!! (What, ME???)

            He told our youngest that he attends “family therapy” with his NEW family (schmoopie and her daughter) and he really doesn’t seem aware of how that sounds to our child – because what she hears is him saying “See how good I am?? I’m TRYING hard because THIS family is worthy”…

            (Of course What I hear is that all is not well in paradise. Oh well, placating his endlessly restlessness & stroking his insatiable ego was exhausting & I’m genuinely glad its not my job anymore).

            I say all this^^^ to answer how long it took for ME to really feel as if I’ve gained more than I lost. I’d say 2-3 years but again, along the way it was not all bad.

            I joined a divorce support group & got a kickass therapist, for whom I’ll always be grateful. I recommend doing this.

            I gave my marriage to the DOCTOR my all – and I did it for decades. Lost so much of myself that I now am reclaiming.

            My kids are proud of me and they’ve noticed that I dress up more, look younger, have more energy, take less medications, & feel better than I have in many years. My self confidence and extroversion are high.

            Given HIS behavior and HIS repeatedly shitty selfish behavior, his anger at me is both ironic and crazy. But he’s acted so bitter I now see him as a box of darkness. I miss who he seemed to be – but i can see him as he is now, & I’d never date or marry him if we met today.

            SUGGESTIONS – other than getting support & therapy & a good trial lawyer willing to go to court–I found

            Planning trips with my kids was a reward to us all and reminded us that we were still a family.

            And my God we had a blast -and there was no FW to get irritable or complain about the cost or time wasted or blah blah blah. I had no itchy sweater feeling of unease wondering where his mind was wandering…

            I also joined clubs and took classes I always wanted to, but with Covid that’s not as easy. But not impossible!

            I recommend you get the best settlement up front (I took a buy out rather than alimony for many reasons, including never having to see or hear from him again.) After what my ex did and then said to justify it, he’s not worth my time or heart.

            The DOCTOR was semi civil before he realized I’d actually want HIS money (HIS words). I don’t know what the hell he thought I’d get after a 35 year marriage and such a HUGE discrepancy in income…

            Mrs Nice Wife

            -Your husband is scrambling now to get you to do the pick me dance because A) he knows his income will DROP…that’s reality.

            And

            B) your husband is a physician and generally they place a very high value on image management . He will not see himself in a bad light for more than a few days AT MOST.

            You are more useful as a wife than an ex. No, I’m not saying he “never loved” you or that he’s a true narcisisst, because I don’t know him AND I think that’s really irrelevant at this stage.

            What matters is that he engaged in LONG TERM DECEIT with you – and he betrayed you – and he broke his vows and he did it over a long period of time. Damn…

            And in your heart you know that if he acts as if she or the “affair” wasn’t that big a deal to him, then she’s not the first. Ouch…

            Regardless, you cannot unknow what you know. I’m sorry because I understand how much you’ve invested in his career and your standard of living. I get it.

            Get a GOOD LAWYER who knows how to examine medical practices.

            Get your ducks in a row.

            A lot of our fears (poverty, loneliness) are not that realistic and they are also within OUR control. Shitty husbands are not.

            And your husband is a shitty husband even if he’s the most brilliant NICEST doctor in town. Maybe he changed or maybe he was always privately a dick.

            Not relevant now. What matters is He mistreated YOU – and that’s on HIM. It may seem counterintuitive but this really truly is NOT about you.

            Finally,

            Mrs Nice Wife – You have no painless choices in front of you. But as I wrote elsewhere, **the pain of leaving is finite.

            **The pain of staying is endless.

            Keep posting and stay strong. And don’t cover for him with the kids. IF they ask, tell the truth but without editorializing.

            And know that HE WILL LIE ABOUT YOU and ABOUT YOUR Marriage.

            He has to lie! The truth about HIM is unflattering – and that’s not acceptable to him.

            He’s invested in being the good NICE guy, not the cliched villain that he’s behaved like. If he admits wrong doing there’s a good chance that will pass after a few weeks because they tend to expect forgivness (AND amnesia) from us and without getting it FAST, they turn the tables and blame shift.

            Hold your head high.

            It gets better. I promise.

            • I can’t thank you enough for such a well thought out response. I will read this over and over again. You have given me strength and hope. You have pegged my husband and his obsession with image and reputation.
              At this point, one of my children have not spoken to him and the other two very infrequently. He doesn’t understand how they can be so upset and how they can judge his entire character over this “one” indiscretion. One indiscretion……over three years! 🤦🏻‍♀️
              Anyway, your words and advice are priceless to me. I can’t thank you enough for paying it forward. I hope to one day do the same.

            • Doctor’s1stWife &3kids
              Powerhouse post!
              I wish I had you in my time of need.

              You are Mighty, like MotherChumper99, VelvetHammer, lovedAJackass & so many other Chumps here.
              CL, you must feel so very proud reading so many of these uplifting, testimonials, and the best advice EVER!

              Mrs Nice Wife
              You are showing new strength every time you post, keep going toward the light.
              You can do this.

              Xxxxx
              Peacekeeper

            • Oh yeah, if they are attending “Family Therapy” all is not well with the new family. Just recently I know of a guy that cheated on his first wife, married the OW, then cheated on her (also set her up for arrest) with someone else with a young daughter. They bought a house together but didn’t last due to him and the daughter not getting along.

              • KB22 are you from another site and have we met before?

                Just curious – either way, yeah, the “FAMILY therapy” so soon after marrying, and telling our kid he’s doing it, (!!) as if she’d see him in a better light,

                shows an utter lack of self awareness on his part. OMG seriously….

                But as CL says, waiting for a narc to wake up and do accountability, is like waiting for your goldfist to learn to knit.

                #MissingEmpathyChip

    • Love the idea of moving and a fresh start! If I were in the same situation as Josh, I would absolutely do that. A little or a lot of physical distance could really help from your family and your stbx.

  • Strength is not a requirement here. Courage is useful, but you don’t have to have it. Besides, courage is acting in spite of fear, not the absence of it, as I understand it.

    When you are in quicksand, you don’t need strength or courage to get out. All you need to do is put your hand out and get a fireman’s lock on one of the hands outstretched to help you. That would be all of us here.

    If you’re in a burning house, which you figuratively are, all you need to do is yell out your location to the firemen/firewomen. That would be all of us here.

    We’re the lifeguards who will pull you into the lifeboat.

    This is so unbelievably fucked up on a whole other level when the cheating involves a relative. I don’t have that story but I know there are chumps here who do.
    I have been No Contact with my mother and sister for years for other reasons (alcoholism/addiction/accompanying dysfunction). I can’t say it was a happy decision but I can say it was a sanity saving decision and today I am good with it, as opposed to suffering ongoing abuse.

    Your family is supposed to be a source of trust and safety, essential foundations of LOVE….that concept that cheaters co-opt and bastardize. Neither the chosen family of your wife nor the installed blood family of your brother is either one of those. Without them, you have no relationship. Why not just act like it is what it really is?
    Pretending otherwise is absolutely exhausting, crushes your soul and spirit, and who would benefit from that?

    Them.

    • PS…

      I suspected at three years in, not married and no children, that the X had cheated. I had no hard proof, just a strong gut feeling when I came home and he was in the office with a female study partner from his junior college class. They were clothed, sitting with open books at the desk, but I got That Feeling.

      So I married him four years later. We started a business. I had our daughter ten years after we got married.

      For my 20th wedding anniversary I found out he was having an affair with a woman he says he met on Craigslist Casual Encounters. That he had been going to illicit massage parlors. That he “had always been attracted to Asian women but he had never acted on it.” (I am Caucasian).

      You think you have a fucked up mess now? I believe now my instincts were right on the money about the “study partner” and, except for my daughter, wish I had left then. Much much less of an ungodly fucked up mess to deal with.

      What starts out shitty never gets better. As for your brother? I’d come up with a new word to describe his relationship to you because he bastardized that concept too.

      • PPS….

        The X left and moved in with his Craigslist ‘Sole Mate’. Then our daughter caught him on Tinder and the Sole Mate caught him going to the massage parlors (hahaha).

        • VH,
          Wow! Those little voices, and feelings we all got that we ignored… and the if only we’d listened games that we play in our minds. I too believe mine was cheating all though our relationship from dating, engagement, newlywed period, and obviously later on as well. A few hideous co-workers, a few attractive confirmed ho-workers, possibly the nanny, it just goes on and on, and I’ll never know the half of it. I now believe those feelings even if I have little to back them up. These people are really pure evil. Love that your x was hit by the karma bus!

  • Josh, believe this old chump here: you are lucky. Lucky to have found out while you are young, lucky to have found Chump Lady. And the world is lucky you are a good person. As soon as your picker is fixed, you will find the happiness you deserve.
    Please do not be like my father: his heart broke ever so slowly and he died the saddest man I ever met. My mother never stopped cheating on him, and in so many ways. He raised a child that was not his, to give one example.
    About your brother: it is all in the Bible. Read East of Eden.

    • Josh,

      You deserve to be loved and protected by anyone in your life. Your wife was never a wife, she’s scum – sorry if thait’s too strong a word but who sleeps with their husband’s brother? She’s not even worth keeping or fighting for Josh. YOU AND YOUR SOUL ARE WORTH KEEPING AND FIGHTING FOR.

      Please get away from these creeps.

      As for your brother, he’s not a brother. He is just shared DNA. That’s all.

      If you go to the website “Out of the Fog” you will find everyone there has a sick family member (sibling, parent)

      I have a disordered brother also. He has abused me beyond anything I could ever imagine.

      Take care of you and go find the goodness that you bring to others.

  • Josh, my heart goes out to you. There is one thing I think I can say for many of us, and that is in the face of irrefutable evidence, we didn’t leave sooner. This will not get better. You only stand to lose, there is no gain in staying. There is no trust, no respect, and she FUCKED YOUR BROTHER. That is betrayal that is beyond incomprehensible. You gave your word to a person who took her vows as a safety net to have her cake and eat it, too. And she went after your brother. That is sick. The pain a person like this is capable of inflicting on you will only get worse if you don’t do something to save yourself, now. If she can do this, imagine what she is capable of. Boss? Best friend? Your dad? She is sick. Don’t go down with the ship. Jump, hang on to the wreckage, and float to shore. There are people there who are sane and will help you. Hang in there, but let go, too.

  • I’m sorry for what you are going through, betrayal from the one you love the most is the worse kind of pain.

    I am writing to tell you that what you know is just the tip of the iceberg. This person doesn’t respect you, your family or herself for that matter. There is nothing there for you other than pain.

    This is your opportunity to make things right for you. You are lucky not to have children or years wasted in a relationship that is going nowhere. I know you don’t feel that way now, but it’s true.

    There is absolutely nothing you or anyone can do to fix a disordered, sick, twisted cheater. It’s in their nature, they are incapable to give or be faithful. There is no cure for serial cheaters.

    If you are scared of getting a divorce, then do it scared. If you are too weak, let your lawyer and CN be strong for you.

    I’m sorry. You deserve better than this. I feel bad for your SIL also, affairs affect many people but cheaters don’t care who they break in the process. Save yourself.

  • Josh,
    The betrayals you have experienced strike deep at the core of your self-esteem and self-worth, so no wonder you’re wondering whether you have the strength to leave. But Chump Lady has a saying, “Take your power back,” and the very best move you can take right now to regain your sense of self-esteem and self-worth is to divorce your wife. I know what it feels like: it feels like more than you can do. When I felt like that, I used to quote Eleanor Roosevelt to myself: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And I did. It was hard (it took me three years to gather up my courage and leave). You can do it, too.

    That you are here, acting on what you know you have to do, and that you have begun to see your cheating excuse-for-a-wife clearly (“she cheated on every boyfriend she had”), says you have the sense of self-preservation you need to do what you need to do even when it feels as if you can’t.

  • Josh – One of the red flags I had in my 30 year marriage was an example of double betrayal.

    My STBX’s adult daughter had a relationship with her own cousin’s live-in boyfriend. The first cousins were close in age, geographically and in friendship. The boyfriend ended up living with my step-daughter for over a year before that relationship ended, too.

    What didn’t happen, as far as I know, was an open family conversation about how unacceptable this behavior was. I saw my STBX choose “blood over blood” (is that possible?) and demonstrate the same kind of secret keeping that later covered his own affair with his best friend’s wife.

    These were all “nice” people in a loving family. No drama. No demands to choose sides. But not dealing with it redefined what would be considered acceptable in that family. What is the best outcome if you stay? That both marriages continue? That your family behaves as if if never happened or that it is normal?

    I don’t think there is anything to work with here, but protect yourself as you distance yourself physically and emotionally. You may be able to think more clearly about your future.

  • Josh, I feel your pain. My ex (“Woody”) cheated with my young niece, the daughter of my brother, after she came to live with us so we could help her get ready for college. Four years after I quit the skein-untangling and pick-me-dancing to seek a new life, they are still together. Their relationship remains an open sore in my family. You can divorce a spouse and go no contact with them very easily, but with a family member it’s not so simple. There are ripple effects among relationships that you have to deal with. To be healthy, Josh, you will have to prune out some people and grow stronger ties with others.

    Chump Lady is right about everything. Please take her advice. Healing really does come when you get a new life. Get away from the emotional abuse and in the rear-view mirror you will see it for what it is. I took a Road Trip to Meh from Maine to California and along the way met another chump in the desert. We are now more happily married to each other than we ever were with our cheaters. We both now have our dream jobs and have built a new home together that we share with an adorable fuzzy pandemic pup. Every day I am grateful that I get to watch sunsets with Desert Guy instead of being snowed in back east in a cheater house heated with gaslighting.

    • “Josh, I feel your pain. My ex (“Woody”) cheated with my young niece, the daughter of my brother, after she came to live with us so we could help her get ready for college.”

      WHOA!!!! That is disturbing on so many levels. What a fucked-up mess! And how did your brother take it? I’d love to hear that he went ape shit and beat your ex up for laying a hand on his young daughter, but I am assuming it didn’t play out that way.

      • BS&L, my brother does have a temper and has been known to throw a punch, so no doubt if he lived close by he would have gone ape. But we lived across the country from each other and he had heavy work obligations, which helped him restrain himself. I would not have wanted him to wind up in jail on top of everything else.

        My brother tells me the niece feels victimized and abandoned because we all won’t just “accept” Woody back into the family as her partner. I don’t want to hijack the comments with details, but suffice it to say, family fuckers suck.

  • Josh my brother, get the fuck out now! You deserve so much more. Consider yourself very lucky you have no kids with the slut. We have 4 kids (22,18,12, & 9) together and I found out when the oldest boy was 16 that he most likely is not mine. When I filed she alienated our 2 oldest kids from me and they have nothing to do with me. Everyone tells that they’ll eventually come around. As of right now I’m not so sure I’d want that given how they have treated me as their dad. On the other hand my younger 2 want nothing to do with her and sparkle dick but she keeps forcing them to stay with her.
    Your wife is a monster believe that and you will see that when you do leave her ass. Make sure to get everything lined up first. When she’s not around get everything of yours you want out of the house and into a safe location. This is something I wish I would have done. My ex wife will not give me any of my things I left behind. Call every lawyer possible, make it difficult for her to find one. What I did was I called everyone of them in our area except one, who is a shitty lawyer. Well my ex wife was furious that I did this but she ended up going with this lawyer. Guess who came out ahead in the end.
    Once you get away from her your head will start to clear. It will take time but you’ll feel so much better.
    Cut contact with your brother. Family don’t fuck your spouses, sociopaths do.
    CN is here to stand with you through this time. I’m here to stand with you my brother.

    • Chumptight is right on the mark. Have children with a cheater and then watch them try to turn your kids against you! And watch your kids be bribed and groomed by them.

      These weasels don’t just stop at screwing other people…..they hurt you financially, spiritually, sexually, and ruin your friendships and your ability to parent.

    • “We have 4 kids (22,18,12, & 9) together and I found out when the oldest boy was 16 that he most likely is not mine.”

      Urgh. I’m so sorry to hear that. I don’t even know what to say. If he knows, imagine how painful and traumatic it is for him as well. Your ex-wife did a doozy on you and the entire family.

      I hope that your kids will someday be able to realize the truth of what their mother is. As an adult child of a serial cheater, I’m here to tell you that it really messes with your head, even though you are not the “offended spouse.” Children do not escape this situation without pain and consequences. I hope your kids get therapy, clarity, and freedom to understand the reality of what is, and I hope they can heal and move forward with their lives and reconcile with you.

      The lying, manipulating narcissist has a way of making everyone think they are the offended party and “poor me, pity me, I need your help, I am so sad, your (father/mother) is being mean, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I am so lonely, I (whatever)…..”

      Sociopath is the right word. People without a conscience or empathy for how their actions hurt others. They take what they want and fuck everyone else.

  • Josh, first breathe a big sigh of relief you do not have children with this woman. She is dysfunctional as they come and has not one ounce of respect for you. It is going to hurt like hell to move on from this relationship, initially. As CL mentioned it is the bonding thing. While divorcing this cheating skank (and she is a skank) you may want to get therapy to find out why you are allowing others to treat you in a disrespectful manner. I’m thinking this goes way back since your brother had no problem screwing your wife. Also, it would be interesting to know if your parents knew about their affair and their reaction. You may want to exonerate yourself from family for a time to get some perspective. Again, leave this woman, cut all ties and I swear a year from now you will be so grateful, so relieved you made this move.

  • Co-dependants Anonymous helped me a lot. You can Google them to find online sessions. They were free when I went.

    Talking to a good therapist is valuable too, you need to address self esteem and dependancy issues one on one as well.

    Leaving a cheater is hard, but staying and living in doubt is harder. Wasting your youth, your health, and your peace of mind is not worth it for a pathological liar and backstabber.

  • Two things I find important in this situation, for learning purposes:

    Abuse comes in many forms, the most insidious, in my opinion, is from your family of origin. They represent normal to you. It takes a long time to deprogram yourself. You did not choose the situation, and no matter what form the abuse takes (cheating, lying, sexual, physical, mental . . . ) it is disorienting to have your core world destroyed. However, once you accept reality and establish boundaries, you can build a whole new core world. You can learn to live in safety and peace.

    The second thing is about these selfish type B personality disordered folks being so set in their ways that I believe they never change. I can’t support that with studies, so perhaps I should say rarely, but I’ve never seen it or heard about it. They may be experts at reading other people, and adapting or pretending to be someone they are not, but only for awhile. The truth always shows the ugly inside, the mask always drops. When it does, they move on to the next victim, and the next victim. Some of them are able to maintain multiple lives at the same time for an amazing period of time. I don’t know where they find the energy to be so corrupt, if they could channel that energy into something worthwhile it would be amazing. But they choose lying, and cheating, and thieving, and insisting that those around them act like adoring minions. They cannot handle dealing with people who know the truth about them. They are creatures of opportunity, and hold no allegiance to anyone’s interests but their own.

    The only sane thing to do in these situations is leave. There is no remorse, there is nothing to work with. If you stay, you give them an opportunity to take more of your soul away. You deserve so much more than that, and it is available to you if you seek it.

    • Portia, you described my father to a “T”. He led more than a double-life….he had a multitude of lives – women in different cities, women his age, young women, “peers” (co-workers or other business industry people), sugar-babies (more than just a one-night-bar pickup). I would add to your comment that they are “creatures of opportunity” and say that they are PREDATORS. It is about more than opportunity because opportunity can be anywhere, anyone, anytime. What they do is they realize that any given moment in their life is an opportunity, but not every person will be psychically available to be seduced by them. What they do is – within the tableau of any given opportunity – they HUNT their PREY.

      There is no remorse. There never will be. My FW father has actually said “I never ask for permission OR forgiveness.” When someone shows you who they are, believe them. I keep thinking there is hope for change, that if only I do or say the right thing (co-dependency rearing its ugly head), then he will be better, magically have some character, not try to stalk people, not continue buying gifts for all his APs that he still keeps on a string, not neglect his family, not (fill in blank). But he’s shown me who he is. I have to believe him.

      Josh, count yourself lucky that you haven’t been married that long and you don’t have kids. You can probably get divorced and not have to pay alimony since your marriage is short. You have not brought into the world a person who will be victimized and psychically tortured by your fuckwit of a wife. Get your ducks in a row and get out. NOW.

      • May I ask how you learned about your father’s way? I’m sorry if that too personal. I just feel this is my stbx and my children are too little to really understand. I’m just thinking long term with them. I don’t plan to tell them details just age appropriate basics, generalizations.

        • Same here Longtime Chump. I find myself worrying about my kids and fear they will be alienated from me due to the love-bombing asshole with narcissistic personality disorder. He has a new girlfriend and now everything is AmAzInG at “daddy’s house” (really the new gf’s house, where she cooks, cleans, watches the kids for him on his time, etc etc etc). It’s an alternate reality since he is incapable of loving anyone other than himself. Everything is done for image. He hates me and has vowed to turn the children against me. It’s so so scary with young kids involved. A true monster. Please, Josh, if you’re reading this, DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN WITH HER. Do not. It is not worth the pain and the fear. It’s torture for decades.

        • Hi Longtime Chump. I don’t mind answering.

          As a child, I never felt comfortable around my father….ever. Somehow I knew deep inside that he was a person not to be trusted. I didn’t know *why* or what that meant, I just knew. As a teenager I already felt like he lived a double life. This was waaaaaayyyy before the internet. I would look at phone bills and try to see who he was talking to or calling a lot, but of course they were just number and I wouldn’t have the temerity to call the number to find out.

          I am middle-aged. Fast-forward to 2019 and my father had a health crisis that caused him to put me in charge of family finances. I started seeing things on credit cards that I was suspicious of. He wanted to re-do his will and trust (with my mom) and he asked a simple question that sparked where we are today. “What are digital assets?” As soon as he asked that, I knew he was hiding something. He refused to participate in the estate-planning purpose anymore. He was hiding something in his digital assets.

          Because I was now in charge of finance and had access to credit card and bank statements and phone bills, I started Googling phone numbers that I saw a lot and strange charges on the card. I also asked my mom if he ever cheated on her and she said yes. It started out with one name of a co-worker (who is younger than I am) in another country (who probably got promoted because she fucked a senior partner) and then the floodgates opened and my mom told me of all of the people she knew about. My father’s assistant (he moved out of the house and into a vacation house my parents own and hired a personal assistant who doubles as a confessor) heard more stories of other people and he has told me what he knows. When cleaning out their house that they sold last year I found thumb drives with his porn collection (I also found porn in the house when I was a kid), but I’m sure that is just the tip of the iceberg.

          My father has been very adept at hiding things for many years. He has thumb drives, external hard drives, old computers, old phones. He keeps lots of stuff hidden in various places, most of which I’ll never find. I don’t need to find it, though, to know what he’s hiding. Pictures and emails from old APs or current APs. I know he trolls Instagram looking for hot women. I know he trolls bars and hotels and restaurants. He picked up one woman (after my parents separated) at a restaurant, paid her $60k for “companionship” and had the nerve to ask me to pay her from the joint account with my mother (I said no). He got her a credit card (that was delivered to my mother’s house) and told her to go shopping and not come back until she charged $10k on the card. Thankfully his assistant put an end to that “relationship” and kicked her out and told my FW father what a dangerous person she was. But he is also a dangerous person, even if in another way. He will destroy your soul but you won’t see it coming. He is a predator.

          My mom knew for many years and didn’t say anything, though she did drop hints. I heard those hints but also didn’t want to hear them, if that makes sense, so I in my gut knew a lot earlier but only found out the facts last year.

          As a result of being in a chaotic household growing up, having a father I couldn’t trust, being emotionally abandoned and repeatedly physically abandoned, I am co-dependent. I suffered from anorexia, self-harm, suicide attempt, feelings of unworthiness, lack of thriving and untapped potential, lack of confidence, feeling like I’m not enough just as I am (and I do know that I am a *good* person).

          I say all that not as a “woe is me” but as a warning to what your children might go through as they get older.

          The tragedy of having a FW as a parent is really soul-crushing and psychically tortuous.

          • B&L,
            Thank you so much for responding so candidly. The more I read the more it sounds like my stbx, the weirdness, computers, hard drives, phones, missing money, etc. The feeling you describe of not being able to trust him as a child, is so intuitive. You were a bright child. I’ve had one of mine say that she’s spies on him bc she just isn’t so sure about him… I think that maybe similar to what you experienced as a child? And the feeling that you just don’t truly know who he is.
            I could see how that that feeling lingers with children into adulthood, and wanting answers. I’m glad you got them. Although, I know it’s hurtful and all the trauma you’ve experienced it doesn’t heal just by getting those answers. I’m sorry you had a fw father. No one deserves that.

            The emotional and physical abandonment, is one thing I really worry about. As toddlers and babies it was not as apparent, with age they become more aware. The abuse is very intentional, the sarcasm, passive aggressiveness, “jokes”, laughing inappropriately is just a little poke to bystanders but to those that know on the receiving end it’s more like a bomb. It makes the kids explode. It’s dangerous. I wish I could do more protect them.

            Thank you again for your response and honesty. For what it’s worth, I grew up in what I think of as the narc tank and have experienced much of what you mention. I swore I would not repeat the pattern in my adult life and here we are.

      • My father was a malignant type B personality. The culture my parents grew up in had many communal unhealthy norms. These things shaped my early childhood development, and I am sure they set the stage for many things which happened later in my life. I knew something was off, but not what. It took me years for all the pieces to fall in place, and marriage to two cheaters. I was in my 50’s when I finally found peace, and I must say the second part of my life has been much better than the first part.

        My father died last month. One of my ex’s has already died, and the other is sick. It is complicated, but the best way I can describe my feelings for them all is that I am glad I will have no further interactions with them, so I am assured a greater chance of peace. I have two sons with the remaining ex, and I know they will have mixed emotions when he is gone, but at least they have had more transparency in their lives. They know the truth about our marriage, and much of the truth about my early home life. They do not have to wonder what is off. I have explained dysfunction and cognitive dissonance to them. They are in their 30’s, so they should be able to enjoy more of their lives than I did. I hope my being a more honest and authentic parent has provided them a better foundation to build on.

        You cannot change the past, or another person, but you can rebuild your own life. That is what led me to MEH.

    • “To have your core world destroyed” ugh this shredding of the core… thanks Portia for these words. The core world is how it is, exactly. And i havent heard it put this way.
      So when people think it ought to be easy to just move on. .. this is what is really going on. An annihilation.
      I thought i would get over it in 6 months and it really took 6 years. But i ” built back better” WAY BETTER. If it takes that long for anew foundation or a new core, well thats totally ok.
      Dear Josh, as they say here the pain is finite. If you stay with the cheater, its forever

  • Josh,
    Your wife and brother are disordered, there is something wrong with them. Protect yourself and get the hell out of there. Don’t give her or him the opportunity to mindfuck you over this. It’s simple your wife fucked your brother, your brother fucked your wife. That gives you the right to cut them both out of your life, and with no explanation. I have CL’a book on audible and that helped me when I felt weak and wanted to waver, her dose of tough love kept the fog from creeping back in. It also helped me get angry and the anger propelled me to action and I was able to follow through with the attorney. None of us are ready for this, there is no prefect time, but you deserve better. Think of it this way you’re giving yourself permission to go find a real marriage or partnership.

    • Josh, do you think that you gravitated towards your wife because she seems familiar – like family?

      If your Brother could do this to you, it tells me a lot, considering that you say the two of you are close.

      I would recommend some therapy. On your own. Deal with your family of origin issues and your own pain.

      As for your wife, she’s already shown you who she is. Without telling her, quietly hire a lawyer and file for divorce.

      You sound young. Lots of time to get to know yourself before you even consider dating again.

  • Josh, you can do it! You have the strength. Please get to a lawyer and say nothing. You will be ok Josh. Glad you don’t have kids. Let her go.

  • Josh,

    I am so sorry. Your gut is telling you what to do. Listen and follow. Your head and your heart will play tricks on you, but your gut knows.

    Like everyone else here, I wish I had followed my gut years ago, but I didn’t. Now I’m caught in the wreckage, and I’ll never be completely free.

    Save yourself from that fate while you can.

  • Dude…. Leave! There’s nothing to piece together here…you will have triggers no matter who the players were but when it’s close kin those triggers will never be quelled. You will be looking over your shoulder forever and never actually feel safe enough to ever sleep go to holiday events think of your childhood memories certain other friends and relatives with whom you’ve shared bonds with will be comparative reminders of how easily you trusted and how willfully you were betrayed. My friend it’s so terrible to know you were stabbed in the back by the “Kane” of your family. I too experienced a level of familiar betrayal not nearly as henus as what was done to you. I get it though…how could the one that you protected defended looked up to sat at the same table with growing up looks like you has the same genes as you be so vile and harm you and your family like that. It’s bad enough when you don’t know the interloper but with some one you shared thoughts advice dreams frustrations and plans with! Oh my God! The idea that your wife the one who vowed to you was to honor you care for you accept all life’s struggles with you is now a foreign entity in your psyche is too much to fathom. You sir deserved NONE of this. You sir are far more worthy of a good life . The constant struggles you will have will be monumental however once you have distanced yourself you will get a better sense of clarity and a reset of your boundaries and deal breakers will carry you forward. There will always be some underlying pain and sorrow and triggers will eventually dissipate…rest assured though you will be victorious. Retreat is not a coward move it is a position of strength it allows you to view the field of battle after having a taste of the foe and a better understanding of how to defend and defeat. In times like these one has to look at the combatants…you sometimes have to fight your enemies your allies and the greatest of the foes…yourself. Fight yourself to regain the high ground of dignity and self-esteem. Pride isn’t a sin it’s a defense mechanism….ego isn’t always a bad thing…it gives you some semblance of clarity and self boundary. Sir if I’ve learned anything over the course of my 30 years of broken it’s that once in a while I matter…that I don’t have to accept plan B or clearance rack or the irregular items.

    • Right on, New York!!!! Human dignity – yes! Stick with where the dignity is and that will lead you. Outrage is called for and theresso little of it for chumps .. except the Great Chump Nation

  • Josh, I’m going to reiterate what CL said: “ Do not invest your precious life with someone who does not love you. You bonded. It’s hard to un-bond. You’re human. You got chumped. It is an entirely curable condition.”

    You ARE strong enough to leave… that’s just a thought in your head. It’s not generating a feeling that will compel action. Google “the model.” You need to think a different thought— how about this: “My wife and bro aren’t who I thought they were- they’ve abused me and I am learning to take action to protect myself.” This thought will generate motivation to do the next steps:
    1) quit having sex with her – when she senses her ATM (you) is closing shop she’ll try to trap you with an innocent baby that she’ll torture— she’s a monster;
    2) call three super lawyers (look on avvo.com) and book consults;
    3) hire one or look for more if they aren’t fighters— you’ll need a fighter because you’re wife is a monster;
    4) take all action necessary to go completely no contact with soon to be X (STBX) – all communication through your lawyer— this is key to breaking those trauma bonds; and
    5) come on this site daily, on the Facebook and Reddit forums where we’ll get you support in real time.

    I had 25 years and 4 kids. I had been financially dependent on X. He too was a covert serial cheater. A monster! I too was trauma bonded. I too tried “counseling” after Dday. I was blindsided and had PTSD symptoms. But…. I knew there was nothing to work with. X wasn’t sorry. He blamed me! I could not live like that.

    6 years has passed. 4 since divorce. Life is so wonderful. I’m so lucky I got free. Every area of my life is vastly improved.

    No contact is key. Start today! Save yourself.

    • ONE NOTE

      Please do NOT use AVVO as it’s a scam that charges lawyers to pay for ratings from other member lawyers AND misleads the public (at least in Texas that’s how it worked).

      I had not practiced law in 12 years when I saw my “rating” there was average. Um, what ratings? I had no ratings as I had not paid other lawyers to rate me.

      Instead, you can look at Yelp or other online sites for reviews from actual clients, and then google them to see if they’ve been disciplined for anything or have a lot of client complaints. And if you know ANYONE who divorced and got a decent settlement, call them.

      Good luck!

  • Josh… You have lived through an abusive marriage for FIVE YEARS. It takes an amazing amount of fortitude, strength, and courage… you have the attributes you need, but you’re using them for the wrong outcome… stop using them in an effort to “love your wife enough to make her stop cheating”… start using them to develop your EXIT STRATEGY.

    Starting over is hard, no doubt… but staying in an abusive marriage is 10000000000000 times harder and every day you stay, you lose another bit of your soul.

    Over a Mardi Gras social distance fire pit yesterday, my neighbor remarked how much my house has changed since Mr. Sparkles left. She remarked that it “feels joyful”… and I thought “WOW”… even my neighbors can hear the walls singing (see CL’s article about her Aunt).

    You can do this. You deserve a better life. You are worthy. And any time you start to doubt that, you come right back here and read this thread… we’re rooting for you!

  • Josh, it’s a good thing you have only five years invested. It means you can start over more easily than a chump who has most of his/her life invested, plus children and grandchildren shared with the cheater. Because you have no such entanglements, it means you never have to see or talk to her again. So don’t spend another five minutes, let alone five years, wasting your life with somebody who will never respect you or treat you right. Of course she hasn’t told you everything. She lies like most people breathe.
    Your brother needs to be out of your life as well. When you get rid of the toxic people and have been NC for some time, the difference will amaze you. Being in relationships with toxic people acts much like toxins in our body do, since they can quite literally make you ill. Living with this woman will eat away at you until you are a shadow of yourself, crippled by CPTSD and all manner of stress related ailments. You don’t need strength to leave, you just need to tap into your instinct for self preservation. Please stop trying to convince yourself this can be saved. You know it can’t.

    • Josh

      HEY – realize what we realized – which is there is NO PAINLESS WAY OUT of this – you are in the shitstorm now. We get it.

      But understand one thing:

      **The pain of staying with her in this “marriage” will be an unending pain.

      (The relationship will NOT magically improve, regardless of what she says. She has a proven track record of truly shitty behavior even before you came alone. Cheating is shitty enough, but doing it with your brother – ouch – is a double donkey punch. Simply put, this is not repairable. She has revealed to you a huge – incurable – character defect).

      **The PAIN of LEAVING and starting over is TEMPORARY – and you WILL eventually achieve a happiness peace and self respect that is literally — impossible to attain if you stay.

      THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN EVER BE HAPPY AND LOVED – IS BY LEAVING HER…

      You will recover from divorcing her, whereas you cannot recover from staying married- because HER infliction of PAIN WON’T END.

      As for your brother, for now, consider this a long separation that may lead to an eternal divorce, but Get the heck out of the hell you’re in.

      Keep us posted, please. We get it. You are not alone, and you will recover.

  • Josh,

    I have a brother and he is my best friend. You know what? I would NEVER stab in the back this way…EVER. Why? Because he’s actually my friend and I love him. People who are your friend, people who love you don’t do things like this. You need a LOT of distance from this man and if he wants you in his life…he has a LOT of work to do (YEARS) to earn you back. As far as your wife…do you really wanna be stuck in the same place another 5 years from now? Think about it…you can get out now…it’ll be sucky for a while, or you can waste another 5 years and when it ends for good, it’ll be sucky another 5 years from now. LEAVE. There are good people out there who will love you and wouldn’t DREAM of doing something like this, and you will find that person. But first, you’ve gotta get rid of these assholes. Good luck!

  • What Chump Lady said about your brother goes double for your wife. Your brother didn’t choose to be your sibling, but your wife chose to marry you. Think of HER “casual contempt” for you, screwing your brother and forever screwing up your relationship with him and your sister-in-law, and throwing a giant stinking turd into family relationships, family gatherings and family alliances. CL says your brother could enjoy a contact high off humiliating you and his wife, “savoring the power of this secret.” Ditto for your wife, as she attended family gatherings and every second she spent with you. And like your brother, she felt free to destroy your world–not just your marriage, but your family relationships. You don’t mention any remorse, apologies or contrition on her part (not that they’d be believable under the circumstances), and you know that when she should have been on a honeymoon high in the first year of your marriage, she was not just screwing your brother, she was ALSO screwing some rando at a college convention. Even if there’s not more, which there probably is, that’s enough. This is a person who won’t or can’t commit. NOT YOUR FAULT. A person who has few morals or scruples. ALSO NOT YOUR FAULT. A person who lied and misled you about her intentions. ALSO NOT YOUR FAULT. But now that you know who and what she is, it’s up to you to make a choice. Is it OK for her or anyone else to hurt you like this? Your fear that you might be co-dependent may be the natural fear of making this major change. The one thing you know for sure is that you CAN’T depend on her to act in the best interests of your or your marriage. Staying might seem easier, but it’s not. Be grateful you can get out without kids to worry about. It’s time to depend on yourself, with a boost from Chump Nation when you need it.

  • Please leave. Tomorrow – don’t wait and don’t think you owe her anything other than, “I thought about it and your infidelity and deception are not acceptable for a life with me.” That’s it. Don’t try to figure her out or puzzle out why your brother would be so cruel. Just leave and get a therapist who understands that infidelity is a form of abuse and then just heal and move on.

    Make this a short chapter in your life… heck a not even a chapter, but a short prologue to a long future novel that includes love, respect, and connection. Hugs and get out.

  • Speaking of not having a child together, are you using birth control that you (not your wife) can control? I wouldn’t be surprised if she announced her pregnancy as soon as you start talking about separation/divorce. You seem as a responsible person so that would be a good way for her to make you feel obliged to stay. If she does announce she’s pregnant, requesting a paternity test seems reasonable considering her past. Call me cynical, but these people can be very manipulative. In my case, an ex-friend threatened suicide, to which I advised her cousin to call an ambulance. It was very interesting how she quickly got better!

    • >>Call me cynical, but these people can be very manipulative.

      Truth! Lordy! But I don’t think that you’re cynical enough. If his brother was the father, the average paternity test would falsely say he was the father. The average paternity test would just pick up on the shared DNA between brothers and wrongly say that Josh was the father. To prevent this, Josh would have to provide brother DNA and specifically ask the testing company, “Could it be my brother?”

      His wife & brother might say they’ve quit, but who can trust them? Disordered freaks might enjoy such a secret. Wouldn’t that be a nightmare at every family function? Seeing a niece/nephew by your traitor ex-wife.

      I’m so, so sorry. Kid brothers typically hero worship their older brothers.

        • Standard paternity testing relies on the Y chromosome, which is relatively easy to test. Unfortunately, that is the part of DNA which Josh and his brother would share (assuming they have the same father).

          Josh’s brother sounds like an evil bastard who might enjoy secret power & duping delight. Horrors. No one sane or healthy would betray his kid brother like this.

  • Hi, I’m Josh.

    Yes, the affairs happened 5 years ago and I found out 5 years ago. They had been sleeping with each other for 3 months. From where I’m sitting the only reason it stopped was because they got caught.

    I feel like such a fool. How did I not have a clue this was going on?!?! After finding out I was obviously devastated but I take those vows very seriously – ’till death do us part.’ So I decided to stay and try to work through our it with my wife.

    I think what happened instead is I spent 3 years living in denial. I actually ended up quitting my job to start my own business and help my brother run his business towards the end of 2019. I honestly thought I was “okay” and because I hadn’t told anyone in my family about it they weren’t really able to advise against the business relationship. After about a year of working with him I realized I’m not even remotely close to the word okay. I started counseling in 2020 because my self-esteem hit an all-time low, I have severe depression and episodes of anxiety. My brother is a super wealthy software developer, so christmas at their massive house really sucks. He finally apologizes via email after I send him an email that says something like “you need to tell the rest of the family about this shit.” His wife reached out to me shortly after to ask me to stop throwing “all his mistakes in his face”. I’m glad they’re happy and can afford couples counseling every week for the last 5 years, not all of us are as fortunate.

    Even today when I ask my wife why she cheated on me she says “we were just married, you neglected me, we were fighting all the time, I didn’t have the right tools to cope, I was young.” I’ve been having the HARDEST time rebuilding trust.

    Most everyone I’ve talked to says the first year was difficult so I just don’t understand her explanation of why she did it. I went on an 8-day retreat where I spent time in isolation thinking about all of this – again I landed on working through everything with my wife. Then I get home and less than a week later I’m second guessing my decision.

    We’re starting couples counseling (again) next week. I’m not 100% sure where I’m supposed to respond to the comments but thank you everyone for the support.

    Moving to another city sounds so incredibly good.

    – Josh

    • Josh, thank you for chiming in and sharing more about your story. Please post a lot and often and share and ask questions and vent and do whatever you need to do.

      A couple of things…. it sounds like if your brother is a “successful” (by outward appearances – clearly he is a character-impaired asshole) software developer and has a lot of money, then he has come to find himself in and enjoy being in a position of power. His wife is happy (for now) to enjoy being power-adjacent. The wealth and lifestyle keeps her there and she doesn’t want to rock the boat for fear of losing her “status” as a wealthy woman. Your brother knows this and feels enabled and empowered to essentially do whatever the fuck he wants because HE has the money and HE controls who gets what. And he also takes what he wants. Like your wife. And you, from the sound of it. You are now in a position to need something from him (assuming you are still in business together or you work for him). He is all-powerful and by controlling your flow of money as well, he controls you and access to things you want/need. Like your wife. Because he has the money, he will take what he wants and to hell with everyone else. As long as you work for him or are in business with him, this will be your relationship dynamic. He has the power, you do not. And he knows it. And now you know it.

      Secondly, about everyone saying the first year of marriage is the hardest. Don’t buy into this and don’t believe it. Don’t believe people who say “marriage is hard” or “marriage is work” or any other remarks that make you think that you have to suck it up and give up a part of yourself in order to be abused because it is “normal”. It is not. I have been married twice. I divorced the first FW for many reasons, but in the end I’m pretty sure he cheated on me. The first year of our marriage was not hard. I remarried current husband. The first year was not hard. In fact it has been 16 years and in a lot of ways we still feel like newlyweds. We have 100% mutual trust, respect, and love. Sometimes we have arguments, but rarely. We are very compatible.

      Marriage in and of itself is not hard and laborious. When you marry the wrong person it is or can turn out to be that way. But if you fix your picker and make sure that you have trust, respect, and love, then the rest is just life’s ups and downs but not “hard” in the way that people make it seem.

      Get your ducks in a row, file for divorce, and if moving to another city sounds incredibly good, then do it!!!!

      • >>He is all-powerful and by controlling your flow of money as well, he controls you and access to things you want/need.

        People like this will knock you down whenever they see signs of emotional independence. I was horrified to discover my family & Ex were shaming me when I was at my best. They knew my worse fears, and kicked me there without remorse. I thought they were helping me not embarrass myself, and instead they are sculpting scar tissue on top my worst childhood wounds.

        Bottom line: Thinking you’re weak and can’t make it on your own is probably an elaborate lie by horrid people.

        • My maternal grandparents groomed my mother to stay with my abusive father. She didn’t go with her gut when he was pissy and nasty during their engagement.
          Nobody in her fucked up f.o.o. (family of origin) had her back.
          The night my father proposed, Mom woke up my grandmother with the news
          “Thank God somebody will take care of you” my grandmother said. So my grandmother saw her daughter as a burden, who couldn’t take care of herself.

          • >>“Thank God somebody will take care of you” my grandmother said.

            That is incredibly scary. You’re poor mother. Her own mother groomed her to “fail”.

            I know how bad that kind of thing is. I was devastated when my mom said something similar when I was facing the greatest challenge of my life. I had trouble finding a job after college, and my parents encouraged me to marry this guy. At the time, I was becoming depressed due to abuse. He was destroying my friend networks as fast as I created them and I thought it was me. I lost all perspective when both abuser & my parents sung the same tune in harmony. They were so certain I couldn’t make it on my own, it swayed me. But they lived in an alternate reality. Elsewhere, others were impressed that I had good credentials working in a “man’s field”. It took so long to realize my FOO’s reality wasn’t reality. I spent too long on their BS, but I did escape.

            • My grandmother, born in 1900, suffered trauma as a child and passed it on to her own children (my uncle and his younger sister, my mother).
              Her father cheated, her mother filed for divorce on grounds of adultery and G. lost that side of her family. Great grandfather had five siblings.
              When he died, he left his fortune to his childless second wife and $1 each to my grandmother and her sister. Posthumous punch to his daughters. G. reconnected with those aunts and uncles when they were elderly.
              When I charted my genogram, I noted suspicions that my grandfather was also a philanderer. A handsome naval officer, frequently absent due to deployments and WW2 and my uncle became G’s surrogate spouse. Emotional sexual abuse (Pia Mellody explains this in her books). My uncle had severe behavioral problems as a child. Visits to a psychiatrist in the 1940s didn’t help.
              My mother was quite beautiful, resembling Elizabeth Taylor and my grandmother resented her.
              Thank God my mother sought therapy to save herself a little and chip away at the transgenerational trauma mess. She didn’t cheat, wasn’t emotionally absent or abandon her children.

    • Couple’s counseling will only work if both parties are equally invested and the guilty party confesses ALL of it and is willing to accept consequences for their behavior and absolutely work their asses off to make reparations and rebuild trust…..

      Unfortunately, its usually the Chump who comes to the session with honesty and integrity. And for the Chumper, its just another way to manipulate and often results in them just taking their behavior underground.

      YOU get counseling for YOURSELF. Don’t allow a Couples Councilor to lay any sort of blame for her actions on you.

    • Josh, she is blameshifting. That’s not remorse. That’s bullshit. Apparently you were in the same “hard” marriage and didn’t cheat.

      Also, she did this at the BEST of times. The honeymooner stage. Before children, or age, or sickness or dying parents or any of the hard stuff.

      You deserve a real partner. You don’t have one.

    • Josh, I second the Skunkcabbage’s suggestion that you start counselling on your own, for yourself. From what you described, it seems to me that you are in very vulnerable position both psychologically and financially. I’m not sure that joint counselling is a good idea right now if you feel low and may not have it enough strength to stand up for yourself when your wife tries to blame this on you. Cheating doesn’t just happen because somebody is unhappy in a marriage. It is a choice. It takes effort and planning to create an opportunity to sleep with somebody. I’m not happy and my husband and I are not communicating very well, but I suggested marriage counselling instead of sleeping around behind his back.

      Regarding working with your brother, please try to find another job. As Bullshit and Lies said above, he is now controlling your life in every sense, jobwise and family wise (sleeping with your wife). I’d bet that this is what is responsible for your depression and anxiety. You’re in a VERY unsafe situation and your mind and body know that, even if you’re trying to convince yourself otherwise.
      I’m also not sure demanding to come clean to the family is a good idea as they may choose him over you as his wife did and you may end up as a sacrificial lamb and be pressured into bending and keeping silent for the sake of “family peace”. I’m concerned that it may ultimately make your life unbearable. You’re worth more than that.

    • Hi Josh,
      Do not deny your true feelings. You are trying to force yourself to trust her and to “get over” this hideous betrayal. You don’t have to, you shouldn’t have to and furthermore, neither of the parties involved deserve your forgiveness or a relationship with you In your heart of hearts if you really wanted to stay with her you would feel that when you are with her, not when you are on an 8 day retreat in isolation – absence does make the heart grow fonder at times and surely gives more than enough distance to romanticize the most troubled of relationships. You sound lost, hurt and a bit hopeless – almost like this is all you are worth…that is to be expected; you have been led to believe that is true by those who are closest to you. As others have suggested, find a good therapist that understands that cheating is a form of domestic abuse – I know you are a man but the best place to get recommendations would be a local women’s shelter. Now is the time to find yourself, be kind to you and build up the strength and your sense of self worth so you can fight for a life that is free of these two disordered individuals.

      The 3 years of denial is a common defense mechanism, some of us here have used for decades but in the end there will be nothing left of you if remain in this toxic swamp of wife and brothers making. You deserve so much more than this, Ignore your sister-in-law, she thinks she is protecting her own dignity by asking you to back off. Chances are everyone around her is aware of your brother’s indiscretions (be clear this is certainly not the only one.)

      As for your wife, even today she is not showing true remorse and is not taking responsibility for her behavior. Her litany of excuses “we were just married, you neglected me, we were fighting all the time, I didn’t have the right tools to cope, I was young.” are pathetic and immature. Honestly, she was young – middle school kids can maintain a relationship without cheating. If she were truly sorry, or for that matter believed that she was responsible for this mess she would still be apologizing. If she truly loves you she would be bending over backwards to make you feel safe and whole, cherished and loved. She seems to be doing none of that. Holy hell, she is still blaming you for her behavior. Trust your gut and trust the people here, you have nothing to work with.

      Sending you some positive vibes, strength, hope.

    • Josh,

      You are too good for this shit.

      You are wasting beautiful depths of character on people who are shallow as fuck. They don’t give a fuck about morality, God, or your well being.

      You will eventually find someone who wouldn’t dream of hurting you. Either for their moral self interest, your happiness or long run afterlife consequences (karma, God).

      You can’t fix other people’s shit internal paradigms.

      You are the most valuable person in this shit show. You will find real happiness.

    • Hey Bro

      Sorry you felt responsible for both of them. Else why would you have bet on the last 4, unfruitful years? You thought it would get better. We get it. It doesn’t.

      Dr Phil: “If they cheat With You, they’ll cheat On you”. (No honor among thieves.)

      Couples counseling? Really? Ok. Make her pay for it. See where that goes.

      When she does her solo ‘counseling’ schedule, book a simultaneous lawyer session. You’ll quickly come to realize the premeditation she and your brother used to prevent your discovery of their betrayal. The planning steps required to conceal it. Two can play at this game.

      They went underground with the affair. They always do. And sorry to inform you of this but THERE WERE OTHERS. This movie always ends the same.

      Here’s a bit of A&A wisdom I hope you will use. “When I stopped living in the Problem, and started living in the Solution- all my problems went away.”

      Go back and read through my and my other chump brothers posts here. My x cheated in her first two marriages. Her second husband was found dead in what appeared to be an accident. Her first (& 3rd marriages- me) ended in divorce. Will she cheat again? That’s a no brainer.

      Thank the God of your understanding you didn’t have children with her AND MORE IMPORTANTLY PROTECT YOURSELF BY TAKING MEASURES TO SEE THAT YOU DON’T!!!

      There are tons of chump women in the pool that would put your anathema to shame and in the rearview mirror. Go find yours. She’s out there. Waiting. And now you have the experience of what Not to invest your time in. Get some healing in first before you dive in.

      Don’t ponder the Why? of it.

      There. Is. No. Why.

      Only self re-discovery and preservation.

    • Josh,

      we are here for you. We know what its like.

      Hey: I hope you learned A LOT from working with your brother. It will all come in handy, don’t worry. One thing at a time.

      No wife
      New job
      New city

      We are here for you, friend.

      • Thanks for the support. I have no idea how to respond to all these comments. I did learn a lot about myself when we worked together. I’m sure I would still be in a state of denial if I just stayed at my comfy job and didn’t make the leap. I don’t work with him anymore – when COVID started locking down everything our workload reduced drastically. I’m self employed but thinking I might move and find a job in another State.

        Honestly I’m having such a difficult time moving on. I love this woman so much and she’s apologized numerous times.

        The things I’m just so stuck on are “the why”. Why was doing that even an option in her mind. And, I’m stuck on how to build trust again.

        I’m scared too. My mother/father got divorced when I was in middle school and I recall just how ugly it was. Shouldn’t divorce be a last resort?

        • There are some things worse than divorce. Your wife has cheated on you with two men that you know of and was never faithful to any man. That sounds harsh but it is reality. This is what you know; most of the time chumps learn later that there was much more that they did not know about. They learn about the more decades after what they first learned; by then the chump has invested lots more time etc in the relationship and perhaps has has several children with the cheater. People sometimes develop PTSD decades after the initial cheating. Then they are at an age and in circumstances where it is much harder to start over. Make your decisions based on reality. Rarely a chump can decide to forgive and move on (you would never forget). I hope if you do that you do not find out decades later that there has been more cheating than your wife admitted to or that it continued to be a problem. IMO people do not just wake up one day and think they are going to cheat that day and they do not just suddenly quit one day. Especially if they did not fully own what they did. You did not cause this in any way and could not have stopped it. IMO your brother was a bigger betrayer to you than your wife but both were wrong. Many times when there has been this much betrayal the potential is just not there to realistically move on with either of them. Best of luck to you. CN is here for you.

        • Josh, if you knew then what you know now, would you marry her? If yes, could there be a kind of masochism going on here? It will not end well, no matter what you do or how you think about it. She wins, You lose. AND bonus for her, she gets a kick out of you being sad about her. Her centrality remains. You are the sidekick. PLEASE get away.
          I was brought up Catholic, and I meant my vows. 25 years later I was a downtrodden doormat. We had got together because I was so vibrant, so full of ideas. He bcame Golden because of my support. I was a bag of bones. Now I give myself all the gold and my life is something I could NEVER have predicted. Including family health (without The Dick- karma has taken care of him)

        • Josh,

          I hope you’re still reading this, so I’ll take a shot at the issues posted here.

          1. About “the why.” We call that “untangling the skein of their fuckedupedness.” Your wife has some formed of character disorder, the evidence of which is that she got about 10 minutes past her marriage vows and starting having sex with your brother. You are never going to understand “why” through the lens of your own well-developed sense of ethics. You would NEVER do this. Someone who thinks “divorce is a last resort” would not fuck their spouse’s sibling. So when you use your values as a lens, you are actually PROJECTING your values onto people who have no such thing. You’re stuck on this because THERE IS NO GOOD ANSWER TO WHY other than because she could, because she’s self-absorbed and lacking empathy, because she does not value marriage. There’s your why.

          2. YOU can’t build trust again. SHE would have to earn your trust. Like many people, you’ve got this trust thing backwards. Trust doesn’t start with the victim of betrayal. It starts with each person in the marriage being TRUSTWORTHY. Of course you can’t trust your wife. She’s a serial cheater. She cheated with your brother. Apologies are not part of “trust.” Your wife would have to demonstrate that she knows what she’s done, that she understands the massive betrayal, that she is working on changing her character. In order to be trustworthy, she would have to CHANGE. And that takes time and a lot of effort. It’s not about being sorry. It’s about becoming a person who wouldn’t think of doing what she did.

          3. You love the woman you thought you married. Maybe she is very physically attractive, Maybe she can be lots of fun. Or whatever it is you find attractive. But let me ask you this: if you discovered she fucked your brother before you got married, would you still have married her? Would you “love” a person who is so abusive as to do such a thing? You love what you thought you had, not the real woman that has been revealed.

          4. Do you have ANY dealbreakers? What would she have to do to get you to the last resort? You’ve given it 5 years and what you’ve discovered (although maybe you don’t realize it yet) that sometimes there is no going back, that people can inflict a wound so terrible that even though we have loved them for a long time, we can never trust them again. And that is 100% on the one who cheated, the one who betrayed you. It is not up to you to forgive or “build trust” or let it go. The cheater is the one who needs to change and as CL says, most people who like cheating aren’t big on doing the actual work of change.

          For me, the last resort would have been discovering the affair. You are not your parents. You do not have to have an acrimonious divorce. And if your wife turns a divorce into a scorched-earth event, then you have yet another piece of evidence that she’s no good. But what if you have a child? What happens if you bring a child into this messed-up situation and then end up divorcing? And do you really think that a woman capable of what she did can’t turn around and divorce YOU if she meets someone else, maybe with more money or power?

          At least go to a therapist (NOT a religious one) who knows about recovery from trauma. You need someone in your life who knows the situation and who can challenge these assumptions you are making, in which you are the person who has to fix this. You can’t fix it. The problem is the character of your wife.

    • Your sister-in-law appears to not want to upset the apple cart or pretty much her lifestyle. Divorce is disruptive for sure. That’s why she is asking you to sweep this under the carpet. However, just because she chooses dysfunction doesn’t mean you have to go along with the program. As for your wife…love how she blames you. Cheater 101. Not paying enough attention or claiming neglect is so cliche and over used. The “we were fighting all the time” and then “didn’t have the tools to cope” is lame as well. So none of this is her fault, you see. Couples counseling should be the last thing on your mind. You need a good divorce attorney as you have nothing to work with here. If you stay you will have even less self confidence and more depression. It’s no way to live and you have the power to correct this by dumping her skank ass.

    • Hi Josh,

      My relationship BEGAN with counseling in 1990, after we had an actual conversation and agreed to see only each other. I requested counseling because at 27 I had enough relationship bullshit to last me the rest of my life and wanted to learn to do it well or be alone.

      We both grew up with seriously troubled families and I did not want to repeat, which is normally what happens. He agreed to go.

      Counseling was a weekly, twice monthly event the entire 27 years we were together. I thought we were in a committed relationship, dealing with our own issues and building a healthy long-term relationship, then learning about being good parents when I had our daughter.

      My 20 year wedding anniversary gift? Finding out I was married to a cheater and a liar who had been hiding money from me for 20 years. (Six figures cash. From the business we started). A CHEATER AND A LIAR AND A THIEF WHO WAS GOING TO THERAPY WITH ME.
      (She fired him for lying after we separated).

      Therapy will never make it what you wish it was or thought you had. Cheating is blood on a white tablecloth that never comes out. You are gambling with your non-refundable life with very grim odds.
      Ask how many people here went to therapy with the cheater only to find out the cheater kept cheating. I think my X was cheating the entire 27 years we were together. He showed up on the couch at the therapists office but I found out he was really talking to whatever junk he was fucking. Him going to therapy was like an anorexic pushing food around on a plate to make it look like they’re eating.

      I MAY HAVE WASTED HALF OF MY LIFE WITH HIM. Between him and my family, I am now 57 years old and the only related person who I believe has ever loved me is my daughter. Don’t rip yourself off.

      If she loved you she would have TALKED TO YOU, WORKED THROUGH ISSUES WITH YOU, AND NOT CHEATED. No amount of therapy can unring this bell.

      Seeing a therapist with a cheater is like getting a fire extinguisher after your house has burned to the ground and you are married to the arsonist.

      You can’t take the ashes and build the house how you wish it was.

    • >>I feel like such a fool. How did I not have a clue this was going on?!?!

      Shift this blame away from yourself if you can. These kind of families groom you for it. You are obviously growing out of it. They might be angry, critical, betraying when you break free. Listen to the voice that wants distance. It’s no small victory that you’re beginning to see how screwed up this is.

    • God, I’m getting triggering flashbacks to my ex wife’s gaslighting while reading this post. It’s such absolute BS. I’ll bet everything I own that you have been cheated on even more than you know and it will continue to happen. She will lie in counseling. She will make it seem like the smallest of things you do is grounds for being “unhappy” and being driven to cheat. When questioned, she will become timid forest creature. You will be used as long as she needs you until a better exit reveals itself or if she just needs the image.

      My ex cheated with two men that I know of, who knows what else got over on me. She pulled a lot of the same crap. “I was in pain” was an excuse to cheat for years because I apparently didn’t give her 24/7 attention.

      You have the potential to end up like this other guy I went to church with who advised me after D-Day. This guy’s ex wife had four affairs in 11 years. FOUR, DUDE! The fourth guy (that he knows of) was the final exit affair. That is going to be you.

    • I feel sick when I think about my experiences in couples counseling. I went into counseling to heal and connect and rebuild an honest partnership based on love and equality and shared values; I wanted to trust my ex again and I wanted respect. Who knows or wants to know exactly why my ex was there, but he manipulated and lied to me and the therapist, and he continued to cheat. And I paid for half of the sessions.

      Leaving meant accepting the reality that I needed to choose between two things I did not want. Both options before me meant unacceptable losses, so at first, it didn’t seem like a straightforward decision. I was willing to compromise, be patient, work on myself and go to counseling in hopes this would mean I didn’t have to lose everything. And of course, I didn’t expect it to be easy, so when it was really, really shitty, I convinced myself maybe that was part of it.

      Unfortunately, relationship success wasn’t up to me, and couldn’t have what I wanted and needed (for myself or in a partnership) with that FW no matter how much I wanted it and was prepared to give. It’s hard to believe your partner is just another abuser, because that cheater is a real person to you. However, we chumps see the many character red flags in the story you’ve shared. It’s really sad and shitty truth to swallow, but you’ve already lost enough time. You’re also continuing to allow more damage to yourself with every day you stay. I know you want to think there’s a chance your story could “work out” (we all did), but it can’t. It’s not what your wife did, it’s who she is. And it wasn’t a mistake, it was a pattern of mistakes. You know this. It is so far beyond your control.

      Instead of trying to choose between a healthy, reconciled relationship with your wife – or a life without her, accept that you are choosing between a continuously unequal, confusing, abusive relationship with a woman you can’t trust – or a life that is authentic and isn’t built on a house of cards. I’m really sad and alone, but since leaving, I can tell up from down for the first time in YEARS. There was no other choice, for me, once I saw this.

      • And as far as your brother is concerned, I am so sorry and cannot even imagine your pain and confusion. Maybe it will be helpful to keep learning about manipulation tactics (here and elsewhere) and how to respond to them, because I think that the more you love someone, the harder it is to see and trust that he is manipulating you.

        I hope you have close friends or family members who you can trust with your heart. Reach out for help to them – they will want to be there for you.

      • >>I can tell up from down for the first time in YEARS. There was no other choice, for me, once I saw this.

        I’m glad you made it out Bread&Roses. That was no small challenge. The world needs all the authentic people of truth it can get.

    • Look. Couples counseling does not work with disordered people. They just manipulate the therapist.

      How about this? Instead of going into couple’s therapy, tell your wife you want to see an individual therapist for a while.

      You haven’t told your family? That’s horrible. YOu’re working for your rich brother, whose wife is spackling for him? Worse.

      Get thee to a really good therapist to figure out why you are not in any way acting in your own best interest. Your brother may be rich. But he’s bankrupt in character. and he’s still abusing you. Who in your life is fully in your corner? Of course you’re depressed. No one has your back. You’re carrying around all of this pain.

      I can’t think of a worse idea than couple’s counseling, where you will be urged to see things from her perspective. That’s the last thing you need. You need a therapist to help you figure out what you feel. And why you aren’t angrier. Remember–depression can be anger turned inward. This is a matter of your health and well-being. Stop worrying about the marriage and star worrying about YOU.

    • I too was raised to believe marriage was “until death do us part” yet my family was very supportive of my decision to leave Nitwit. I would argue that the wonderful woman you thought you were marrying died the instant she decided to sleep with your brother. Probably she never really existed in the first place, just as a mask for a hollow shell of a woman. You were defrauded into this marriage. Would you stay in a business relationship you were lured into under false pretenses? This will be very painful to accept, but we’ve all been there and eventually the pain goes away after you’ve been NC for awhile. Being a fraud victim doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you human.

      Your brother may have a high net worth but both he and your wife are worthless as human beings. The two are not mutually exclusive. My dad is also a software engineer. He would never do something like that to my mom or his brother (if he had one). He and my mom have been together for 40 years. Your wife did not sleep with your brother because he makes a lot of money. They slept with each other because they are narcs. Period.

      As for your wife’s claims that you neglected her that’s pure BS. My XH neglected me terribly during the last year of our marriage. Yet I was not the one banging community college students 10 years my junior. If your wife was feeling so neglected she could have brought that up with you and tried to work something out. “He neglected me” is just another female cheater excuse to cover for her own poor morals.

      What you’re feeling right now, rage, depression, confusion, nostalgia for what you thought you had before, is all completely normal. You do have the strength to leave her and you will find peace once you do. Maybe not immediately but after some months, maybe a year, you will feel better (this is assuming you cut contact with your louse of a brother as well). As others have pointed out she will likely leave you anyway and if you have kids with her that will make everything 10x harder. Better to divorce her now on YOUR terms, not hers. You sound like you still have a good many years ahead of you. Do you want them to be filled with her drama or with interests of your own, whatever they may be? I am in my early 30’s. This time last year I was still married to Nitwit and could not ever imagine life without him even though I knew about the cheating at that point. Now he is just some guy I used to know. I still feel rage at him sometimes, but overall I am calmer than I could have imagined a year ago.

      You can do this.

    • Josh, look around. You are the flower on the dung heap. Your wealthy brother is honored for having money. Gag! He has no integrity. He did the despicable thing of cheating on his wife and his brother. He is not a healthy person for you. Your wife isn’t either. It seems you have allowed three selfish people to be in charge of your life. They don’t deserve you. Please leave them behind. Get some good therapy. The day you say a loud “NO” is the day you are free of them.

      • Ugh, the money thing. Was ex was a very successful engineer & I would cringe when ex father-in-law would bring that up at family gatherings. Ex’s siblings were all doing well & also had families to take care of. We didn’t have children & therefore had much more disposable income. Well, guess who cheated? The golden child.

    • “Moving to another city sounds so incredibly good.” this is a good instinct! Keep it at the front of your mind and get everything arranged to act on it as fast as possible. The universe will help you out – find the place you would like to be. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Any move away will move you closer to clarity and peace of mind. Josh, this is the healthier hopefull you speaking for the wasted abused you.

      • >>The universe will help you out – find the place you would like to be.

        That’s a chancy thing. But I experienced this too. I experienced a lot of wonderful luck once I decided to dump the abusive boyfriend, no matter if I could support myself. I fell in with a good group of friends, and felt euphoria almost immediately.

    • Hi Josh:

      I’m still in my marriage too, and for the same reason as you: I made a vow. But lately I have been thinking that the “til death do you part” might be my death, because I am so stressed and anxious and experience despair every day. I mean that literally, BTW, not a spiritual death or something like that.

      Working for your asshole, mansion-dwelling brother seems designed to make you crazy…it would make any normal person crazy. I think that feeling you have that it would be incredibly good to just leave is your true core and survival instinct speaking. I hope you file for divorce next week, then throw your shit in the car and leave…and tell your brother he is going to give you the world’s best job recommendation or you will tell the entire world who he is behind his mask. I think it is a matter of life and death that you leave. Same for me.

      • I like to remind people that two people take vows in a marriage. Marriage is, at heart, a contract between two people. Even a religious marriage required two people to go into the marriage with an intent to live up to those vows.

        Josh, your wife did not mean her vows. You have much evidence of this. When one party to a contract doesn’t mean to live up to it and actually breaks the contract (over and over, each cheating incident a separate decision), the conclusion is that there is “no meeting of the minds” necessary to a contract.

        It takes two people to make a marriage. You can’t fix this alone and she’s not capable of it.

  • Josh, most likely this is not even the Tip of the iceberg.
    It’s a dark journey that will throw you into spells of depression, rage and loneliness. It will unravel your deepest insecurities that will leave you with lingering emptiness. Turning the other cheek does NOT fix these people. Shame on your brother, he is no better than your cheating, lying wife! smf

    SAVE yourself, Take the Trash OUT.

  • Hi Josh,

    First let me just say my heart breaks for you and everything you’ve been through. As others here have said, it’s not your fault, and you did nothing to deserve it. And as others have said, you need to get out of these two toxic relationships with your brother and your wife. But I know you’re not going to until you do something else first.

    Learn to love Josh.

    I don’t know who first told you or showed you you weren’t worth loving. I suspect your brother played a big part. He sounds like a textbook narcissist. I don’t even have to know you to know that while you were growing up, he constantly said and did little things to remind you you weren’t as good as he was, to keep you looking up to him and doing what he wanted you to. If you ever pushed back, he made it clear there would be a cost you didn’t want to pay…. And then your wife came along. She sensed immediately that you were used to laying yourself down over mud puddles for narcissists to walk on, and she snapped you right up. As everyone has said, these aren’t good people. But they’re not the real problem. They would never be able to use you the way they do if you knew your own value. If you really knew that you are a loyal, trustworthy, kind, precious, beautiful man—if you knew that all the way down inside, you would have walked away from these people the first time they showed you they had no idea what you were worth and just wanted to use you like a hard drive until they filled you up with themselves and got sick of you and threw you out for better storage…. Which is exactly what will happen if you stay in their lives. Ask me how I know.

    So, your job is to discover what an incredible human being you are and start treating yourself that way. What would you say to a close friend who told you the story you’re telling us? That’s right: you would tell them to run like their hair was on fire. And that’s what we’re telling you. And you know what, even though that step is really, really hard, it will be the first time you’ve proved to yourself that you matter as much as these toxic energy vampires who have latched onto you. And that will make you stronger. And then you’ll keep choosing yourself, since you are, after all, the only life on this planet you’re really responsible for and can do anything to improve. And things will keep getting better and better. And in a few years, you’ll look back at the old Josh and have a lot of compassion for him, but you’ll hardly even recognize the guy.

    We’re here for you every step on that journey. Get going.

    ((Hugs))

    Okupin

    • Josh, this exactly, that Okupin says.

      Learn to love Josh.

      Both my father and mother lived being ongoingly cruelly dominated and humiliated by their respective brothers —their covert narc mothers were the thread-pullers who elected the brothers to gods and made sure the sadistic abuse was ever happening.
      Deference to the gods. The narcissistic mothers and their chosens.
      When my father died the only one who had benefited from his work was his older brother.
      My father’s father and younger brother had conveniently been done in (cruel wear-and-tear subtly does you in).
      There are families of this sort.
      You seem such a lovable person.
      I am a chump. I encountered my own traitor in the form of my now-ex-hunsband.

  • JUMP!

    CL describes it well – that it is not about jumping to a safe, better place. It is about leaping to a horrible place but it is the one chance you have to save your life.

    I am a visual person and I think of it as (similar to a Die Hard movie) dragging my broken body and mind from the center of a huge explosion. There is great damage and much of it I will never recover from. I cry a lot over what was blown up and no longer exists. But, I survived the blast. It should have killed me. But, somehow it didn’t. I have to remind myself of that daily.

    You are younger and already finding CL and great resources and support. As you probably already are aware, if a person doesn’t fix the original family hole you have in your personality – you will only attract yet another sneakier and more deadly snake for future “lessons”. My whole lifetime has been absorbed in this narcissistic drama and now that I can actually see it for what it truly is – I see my grandchildren are being conditioned to abuse/be abused in their homes. It will never stop and the people I love are chewed up in its path.

    Break the chain! JUMP!

    • Josh, make yourself the most important person in your life. Get out while you can and do not spare anyone who betrayed you when people (especially those who matter) ask you what happened. There are consequences for the behavior of your wife, your brother and his wife. It is not your job to suck it up and not even bring the subject up. You said something to your brother about it and he told his wife and she gets on you about it. REALLY? Your job is to be concerned about you and rebuilding your life. Brother and his wife probably do not want to have to divide their assets; so they are staying together and thus, need to pretend this did not happen.

      Also no couples therapy–mostly the couples’ therapists are working on the relationship problems from a neutral position–not helping the one person who was not at fault for the relationship problems. That one person needs a therapist that is just working on helping you. Blame shifters do not benefit from couples’ therapy; but we are interested in You benefiting with help for you. That will not happen if you are sitting there listening to your spouse make excuses or say “I do not know why I did that” or blaming you when she cheated without coming to you and telling you that she was not happy, etc.

      Best of luck to you. You are at the right place at Chump Nation.

  • I sometimes find it helpful to liken cheating to war time behaviour.
    Imagine you’re at war and an ally intentionally betrayed you. You took a severe hit, lost a lot of troops and resources. Would you then turn to them and share your sides most intimate and secret details for the next battle? No. You’d protect yourself and view them as a threat.

    Josh, I’m so sorry for your pain, but the reality is you can never trust these two people to have your back again. That’s a huge sh*t sandwich, but you don’t have to stay there and eat it. Go NC and heal. Moving also sounds like an amazing idea-just please don’t create any more allegiances with these two traitors.

    • You hit the nail on the head, AimingforMeh, “you can never trust these 2 people to have your back again”. It is quite the shit sandwich but truer words and all that. I would bet that the vast majority of cheaters never have their spouse’s back to begin with – I know mind didn’t.

  • Josh I promise you can do it. I promise you. It’s going to be hard, but you’ll end up regretting that you didn’t leave sooner. Til death do us part? No, Til “I’ve realized my spouse is an incurable monster” do us part. Quit with the couples counseling. It’s such a scam and a waste of time and money. Selling you on false hope, that a therapist can say the right magic words to make your spouse change. Not. Going. To. Happen.

    We’ve all been there Josh. I would have done anything in the world to save my marriage. I thought I would die without it. You know what? I didn’t die. I have a wonderful, full, happy life. You can too. But not with her

  • Hi Josh,

    How graceful for you to respond and share. Thank you.

    I just wanted to add, that you are being used and abused by everyone around you. I can’t imagine that powerlessness feeling and feeling trapped.

    Your cheater is full of excuses, like they all are. You should hear my cheater’s excuses: he was stressed, lonely when he travelled, depressed. Guess what, I was lonely and stressed and depressed when he travelled also and I DIDN’T cheat. Do t buy her excuses, more importantly, don’t let her blame her behavior on YOU.

    You did not participate in the decision of her cheating, she did that own her own, your brother did that on his own. I know you do t feel ready or can’t see clearly, but a marriage doesn’t work this way. The first year is the best. I know many cheaters cheat after being together two decades when things get a little stake/routine, but at the beginning?? No way.

    There is nothing but pain in there for you. Love is not supposed to hurt. Don t confuse this heartache with love, even if you feel it, she doesn’t respect you nor love you.

    I’m so sorry.

  • Dude…..leave…..go no contact!

    Do this is a controlled manner to ensure you are protected and you have removed any possessions which are dear to you.

    Do not tell her anything. Act “normal”. Get an attorney (get free consultations with all the best attorneys in town). Open new bank account, get a new credit card, get a storage locker to slowly store your stuff….when the time is right, leave swiftly and go no contact. Block her from everything.

    You may be tempted to be the “good guy”…..DON’T!!!

    This is a great community. I read a lot and watched a lot of videos on Goodguys2Greatmen too. These will help you discover your value and you will quickly realize you can live an amazing life without your current wife.

    Best wishes and good luck…..you will be OK !!!

  • Josh: My mom passed away November 17, 2020. My brother was stealing from her while she was in the hospital. I signed warrants out for his arrest with the help of local law enforcement, ATM machine cameras and bank proof. It hurts so bad having to press charges against my brother but he has done these type things all his life. In and out of jail. Bipolar and terrible character is the best way to describe him. It is okay to rid yourself of your sad excuse of a brother. Another note: My ex was having a year and a half affair in 2018. His married best friend set him up with his married affair partners unmarried and 15 years younger niece. I give my ex two chances to keep our family intact. X kept seeing her. I opted for divorce. My best friend at the time decided to give her husband a chance and stayed with him. They started best friending my ex husband and the niece who’s aunt was seeing her husband. My heart was broken. She did what she could to keep her husband in check and cared less about me. He kept cheating. They are finally separated and he is still seeing the same woman. She is best buddies with the niece. I was thrown to the wolves absolutely heart broken by my X and a person I thought was my best friend. All this said, walk away from people with unethical bad character. You have nothing to work with!

    • ” She is best buddies with the niece.” Your former friend may think they are close friends but the niece is just passing along info to her aunt. I’m sure niece and aunt have a few laughs at her expense. You are better off away from all this toxic dysfunction.

      • KB22 thanks. I’m still hurt from this. I can’t for the life of me understand how my X-friend thinks any of this is okay. Two weeks after I made my X leave the house, my X-friend and her husband went out with my husband at the time and the AP niece. How? I am still disturbed and hurt by this. So toxic and life altering. Josh needs to run. It’ll only get worse.

        • Your X-friend was desperate to cling to her husband. She was not about to take a stand on anything that may cause him upset and went along with him to stay in his and his friends good graces. Very sad as apparently she got dumped in the end. Oh and I don’t care what version or narrative you heard, she got dumped. I’m not making excuses for her as she fully engaged in the dysfunction and with friends like her…
          Glad you got out and have a chance to live a happy, decent life away from these freaks.

          • I so desperately needed your words of kindness and encouragement. She definitely chose the toxic life to keep him in place. I have come to find out that I am one of many done this way. Doesn’t make me feel any better but does allow me to understand dysfunction and boundaries. They all crossed my boundaries. I was not okay with that type of treatment. I divorced them all. My heart still hurts however, my true loyal friends and family are my rock. They have my back and I have there’s. That’s how true friendship works. Chump Lady daily and seeing you guys always helping others is my guiding light and savior. I so relate with so many of you. Humbled!!!

  • Dear Josh,

    I want to you hug you and shake you.

    Best friends don’t stab their friends in the back. I’m guessing your brother has always been a manipulative, bullying sociopath and your parents either encouraged or ignored it. A lot of people suck up to folks with money. Does your brother give your parents, other family members money, expensive gifts, pick up the tab ?

    Your wife is a cheater. She cheated on you, her husband. She cheated on every single man she dated. That’s who she is. There is nothing to work with there. Radically accept it and get away from her.

    Get a full std panel. Unfortunately there is no hpv test for men on their genitals. Research now shows asymptomatic, untreated trichomoniasis in men causes prostate cancer.

    You’re lucky you don’t have kids. No more sex with her, even with a condom. She could sperm jack you by poking a hole in it. Or worse, she’ll get pregnant by your brother or another fuck buddy and you will pay for the next 18-21 years. Married, wife gives birth, judge decides you pay even though it’s not your child. Happens all the time.

    Tell your family, friends and work associates what happened. Just the facts, no sharing of feelings. Personally I wouldn’t do business with such a slime bag. You’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire by helping Mr. Bigshit with his business.

    Of course you’re depressed and anxious ! Listen to your gut, your instincts (Run Josh ! Run !), not the incompetent couples therapist. Every session is money wasted, money for your moving costs. Moving away sounds like a great idea.

    (((Josh)))

    You’ve been massively betrayed and may have a hard time concentrating. Try to read the comments in the archives from fellow male chumps. They have walked over the hot coals of infidelity, then divorce, bandaged their feet and are walking towards their new, cheater free life.

    You can do this.

  • Wonderful people don’t screw around with married people and wonderful married people don’t screw around.

    Don’t gamble on potential. Make your decisions based on who people already are, and believe them when they show you.

    You sound like you are already aware of the gangrene caused by cheating. The only sure way to survive it is to remove the rotting limb.

    Big hugs to you. I am so sorry for what has been done to you by those who should have been the most trustworthy.

  • I found out 5 months into my marriage that my STBX was sexting other women, then again a month later, then again a few months later – plus meeting up with a woman that he met online…I did not give him another chance the last time. I’m (impatiently) waiting for him to move out now. I know how difficult it can be. You were supposed to be in that honeymoon phase (I thought I was), not being cheated on with your brother! You ARE strong. You CAN leave this abusive relationship. Come here for support if you can’t find it anywhere else. ((HUGS))

  • That brother: triple cheated!
    1st: he cheated on his wife
    2nd: he cheated on his own brother.
    3rd: he got involved with a married woman
    CL is spot on: he must get off on cruelty.
    I believe that what Josh describes as “feel deep in my gut that there was more I didn’t know” is the expression of mistrust for his brother.
    Unfortunately, this cheating episode is not the first betrayal.

  • Never in a million years would I speak to my brother again if he did this. I couldn’t stay with a woman who was sleeping with other men behind my back. You can never feel safe and secure in that type of relationship. If those people have that type of evil inside them, that’s not anyone you want to be around in your life.

    If I didn’t have kids and that happened to me, I’d be far, far away, and completely revamp. There’s better people in this world than that crap.

  • Josh, I haven’t read the other comments (although I will go back later and chime in here and there).

    What I want to say to you is this: If you were strong enough to stay in this abusive hell hole of a marriage, you are strong enough to leave it. If you don’t have kids, it’s actually pretty easy.

    Gather up all your financials (house, utilities, taxes, pay statements, retirement funds, etc.)
    Find 2-3 really good divorce attorneys in your area. Pick the one who has the best plan for getting you free and clear. If you don’t have kids, time is on YOUR side. You can be separated for a couple of years while you wait out the final decree if she fights for alimony or whatever. I’m pretty certain that neither your brother nor you hopefully soon-to-be-ex-wife (STBXW) will want to be deposed.
    Give some thought to where you want to live. I’d suggest leaving your house and putting it on the market if you own and finding someplace with interesting people around–a nice small town or a city neighborhood. Once COVID is under control, you want to be in a place where you have contact with other people even if you aren’t ready to date.
    Find a good therapist and invest in some support. I would expect a person in your situation to be a LOT angrier than you are. You don’t want to bury the pain or the anger or the disgust.

    I wonder–do your parents know what your brother did? I can’t imagine keeping that secret for the rest of your life. But of course the risk is that they will pressure you to “forgive.” Just remember that your brother would need to have a character transplant to deserve forgiveness.

    Please let us know how you do as you go forward. You deserve a good life. Staying with the monster you married will mean reliving this trauma over and over.

  • Josh,
    I’m sorry you’re going through this; it’s an awful position to be in, and your hesitation about what to do is completely natural, but please heed the advice of folks here in CL land. They’ve been down this road; they’re veterans, and they won’t steer you wrong.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my take-away from what you said: “…my wife has cheated on every single boyfriend she had…” Well, welcome to the club! Trust me when I say this, SHE WILL NOT CHANGE. Whether you’re a boyfriend or husband, it makes no difference. Make your decision accordingly.
    Best of luck, stay strong and visit here often!
    ~Capt Chumpy

  • Josh,

    My heart breaks for you. You are obviously a caring person who truly wants to do the right thing.

    The thought of you in marriage counseling with your cheating, lying, manipulative wife makes my blood boil. There is a high probability that the therapist feels that you are there to save your marriage and so the door is opened for them to ask you to take responsibility for your part in the failures of your marriage. This is absolute BULLSHIT. My X and I were told to hold hands and look deeply into each others eyes.
    That is not a safe thing to do with someone you do not trust (for good reason).

    You are ripe for individual therapy, not marriage counseling. You need clarity, not more of your wife’s lies and blameshifting.

    Good luck to you – what an amazing life you could build if you just walk away from this shit show. xxoo

  • You got this Josh! From someone on the other side, I can confirm what Chump Lady said, the pain will pass! You have a whole world waiting for you. Imagine your life in 10 years from now. What do you want it to look like? Finding out your wife has cheated again, but now you have 2 kids, even more shared assets, and 15 + years invested of your precious life with someone who has no regard for you? Or… how about living those 10 years free of fear, focusing your energy and thoughts on things that make you happy, building financial stability, finding a partner who you can trust, one who loves and values you! That is what life can be when you leave a cheater! I know it’s not easy, I didn’t think I could live without my ex husband, but you got this. 💪🏼We are here for you! Visit this site everyday, read the articles and the comments- it will help build your strength. This woman will never change, she will poison the rest of your life, get out now Josh, you deserve better!

  • Josh, you have no idea in what a terrible and abusive situation you are. No wonder you feel depressed and anxious, not even telling anybody what’s going on.

    Unfortunately, your situation isn’t unique. In the UK, a few years ago there were a rumors that a celebrity gagged his mistress not to talk about their affair because he was married. It turned out that this person was one of the best soccer players in the world. When this story broke, another story emerged, that he had had a mistress for the last 8 years. The mistress was – a wife (or long term partner) of his apparently less successful brother. She broke story herself because as many stupid OWs she felt “cheated on”. The soccer player then claimed he was addicted to sex (interestingly, all his mistresses looked like his wife – and previous girlfriends), then he was reconciling with his wife. I think the end of this reconciliation was when the reconciling couple went for a romantic date to the restaurant and were recognized by other patrons who then publicly laughed at her, not for being cheated on but for considering taking him back. She did divorce him a bit later. There are other interesting aspects of this, but I’m trying to be short(er); the last we heard of him was a year ago when he was accused of physical abuse of his then girlfriend and her relative (in case anybody needs a proof that cheating is a type of abuse).

    There’re some apparently very successful men who are total pieces of shit and they just have to have everything, including their siblings’ partners/ wives. This is just the way they compete and want to humiliate their brothers and this is exactly what your brother wanted to do to you, shit all over you and show you who’s the boss by sleeping with your wife. Worse, now he’s literally your boss at work, probably showing you in so many small ways what a loser you are according to him and I’m sure taking huge advantage of your work. If your brother is really as successful financially as you say then he really didn’t need to sleep with your wife because there’re plenty of gorgeous, willing women around who don’t mind sleeping with married rich men for a dinner or two. He did it because he wanted to. I’m sorry if it’s painful but you need to see the truth and then act according to the real situation and not imaginary one.

    You wife is a total piece of shit, too, cheating on you soon after your marriage and then blaming you for it. You wrote that she’s cheated on each and every of her previous boyfriends, so here’s how much you can believe her when she’s blaming you.

    It’s horrible that you told nobody and you’re carrying this terrible secret alone. Do tell your closest family when the time comes though it’s possible that some might blame you, depending on whether they’re narcissists themselves or just blinded by the money. You aren’t PR officer of your brother, no reason to be quiet.

    Stop this shit with marriage counselling. Stop talking and discussing. You need to go secretly to a good lawyer who should help you with you marriage and work situation, how to get most of both of them. (they’ll both go ballistic, I’m sure of it, brother and wife). Be quiet until you get these ducks in the row. Visit a therapist separately, if you want. Then just leave, preferably without a word, forwarding address and hire somebody to serve her, and a lawyer to start negotiating with your brother about your part in the company. Go far away somewhere else, communicate with them via a lawyer, go completely no contact and gain perspective into what kind of horrible situation you’re going through, and how to gain a life.

    And you aren’t an idiot for not seeing it earlier. What kind of person sits around, thinking who might be cheating on them, or who’s in their vicinity is a serial killer? We can’t walk through life like this. You’re just a nice human being, unlike your brother and your wife.

      • WOW!! He’s a piece of work! Had a years long affair with his brother’s wife and in November was arrested for ‘suspicion of assault’ on his girlfriend.

  • Josh,
    I suggest that you are like me, even though I am an old woman, 41 years married to a cheater. You stated that you partnered financially with your brother who callously betrayed you. This is me, shooting myself in the foot. I’ve done this. I do this and I cannot fathom my own thought process that compels me to make these kind of choices. I am certain that it is rooted in a lifetime diet of shit sandwiches originating in my FOO. I am amazed by the depth of shit I learned to accommodate. I am sickened by the choices I’ve made that enmeshed me further in dysfunction. Why did those choices seem appropriate?

    These are questions for INVIDUAL counseling. I urge you not to include your cheating wife. I was desperate to keep my marriage. Really, the infidelity was only one more arrow in the quiver of abuse I tolerated for so many years. That’s how I saw it until cPTSD kicked in. MC exacerbated the mind fuck to become body fuck, too. Spare yourself!

    I was making progress in IC. So what did I do? (Well, of course!) I found a perfect opportunity to whip out the gatling gun and decimate the equivalent of four toes. Yes, my IC became my poor timid forest creature’s greatest advocate, and I sunk further into the boiling pot. DON’T DO IT!!

    My FOO produced 2 cheaters, 2 chumps and 1 who was just too weird to classify. There was familial infidelity and other forms of betrayal. Resigned acceptance of the intolerable was normal. Most of all there was SECRECY. I know the discomfort of calling foul on loved ones who violate. Not easy, is it? I cannot advise, but I can sympathize. (My gut is in turmoil preparing to post here.) I know those family gatherings with the secrets tamped down yet still in the midst. Josh, this should not be your normal.

    Chump advise here is spot on. I understand the inability to see how life should be when all one knows is an abnormal normal. Are your brother’s actions are nothing new, but a continuation of family MO?

    Josh, focus on you. Claim your right to be treated with dignity and respect especially by those close to you. Don’t spend the years of your youth eating shit sandwiches. Learn how to claim for yourself that that betrayal of a brother with your wife is unacceptable. Learn how to respond. You will never receive healthy regard from dysfunction. NO MATTER HOW MANY SHIT SANDWICHES YOU EAT.

    I am late to my own advise. Don’t be me! In truth, I wonder if I’ve eaten so many shit sandwiches that I am full of shit.

    Best to you.

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